An early start

By most reports, leaves are late in turning this autumn, though with recent cold temperatures I expect this could change in a hurry. Oddly, mahonias and camellias, that often do not flower until mid November in this garden, are getting an early start. The vagaries of the interaction of weather and flowering are a bit beyond my comprehension, so I’m happy not to give it much thought and enjoy whenever there are flowers.

A year ago, flowering of hybrid camellias was disappointing, with few flowers from ‘Winter’s Star’ until the warm spells in January, and only brief, scattered November blooms on ‘Winter’s Snowman’. There were no flowers on ‘Winter’s Interlude’ and other autumn flowering camellias. Certainly, the weather had something to do with this, but why, I don’t know.

I’m hopeful that the camellias, now heavily budded, continue to flower over the next several weeks, which would be the longest stretch of flowering since any of the camellias was planted. I’ve recently noted exceptional growth from most of the camellias this year, and again, why I don’t know, but several have now stretched above my head.

I was surprised earlier this year when a large fernspray cypress was removed, to find a tall camellia wedged between the cypress and an Umbrella pine. I hesitate to admit it, but finding plants that had long ago been forgotten is a likely sign that the garden could be over crowded. The area has been replanted with lower growing plants so that the camellia’s flowers can now be seen.

I presume that early flowering of camellias and mahonias must be triggered by early cold, but certainly that has not been the case, and in fact I would judge that recent months have been unusually warm. I cannot recall a time when mahonias began flowering in mid October, though my recollections are too often unreliable and subject to revision. All hybrid mahonias, including the new addition ‘Marvel’ with many fewer spines than others, are showing first blooms, or showing buds that will open in the next few weeks, which is closer to the typical schedule for flowering.

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