Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira'
A Southern Staple

The seasons are changing and slowly fading are the many bright, bold colors that summer flowers, perennials and flowering shrubs bring to the garden.   Instead this time of year ushers in the beginning of our love of all things camellia.  While these evergreen beauties were overlooked all summer long as other shade loving plants like azaleas and hydrangeas took center stage, now is their time to shine.


Essentially there are two types of camellias, Japonica and Sasanqua.  The Japonica varieties are the true Southern gems with hundreds of varieties, each boosting big, bold flowers in single petal or double bloom.  They prefer shade to sun and bloom later in the season, typically starting in December to March.  They tend to grow larger than the Sasanqua varieties, though both are considered slow growers.


Camellia japonica 'Pink Perfection'

The Sasanqua varieties can tolerate more sun, though hot afternoon sun is not preferable.  They bloom earlier in the Fall, beginning in late October through December.  Blooms come in white, red, pink and lavender shades.  The flowers and leaves on these tend to be smaller and not quite as dramatic as many varieties of Japonicas.  The blooms may be single, semi-double or double.  Depending on variety, mature height can range from 5 to 15 feet and the growth habit can be mounded or upright.


Camellias prefer well-drained, acidic soil.  They are long lived and make excellent screens, hedges or foundation plants.  Camellias are one of a few shrubs that flower in the winter making them a standout in the shade garden.  Their glossy, evergreen foliage, interesting flower forms and textures, and low maintenance requirements make them excellent landscape plants.   They are also excellent container plants and are perfect for a shady front porch providing a pop of color in the winter and shiny evergreen leaves year round.

Encore� Autumn Twist
Encore, Encore, Encore
Three Seasons of Color for these Azaleas

 It seems a bit odd to be writing about azaleas in a Fall newsletter but Encore� Azaleas defy the conventional notions about azaleas and are quickly becoming known for their Fall blooms as much as for their Spring color.


Encore� Azaleas are truly becoming the shrub for all seasons and one of the only patented brands to bloom three times a year. With heavy bloom times in Spring and Fall, and some color in the Summer, these evergreens are showstoppers.  Unlike most other azalea varieties, Encore� Azaleas can tolerate sun.  In fact, planting in typical shady locations expected of most azaleas, will lead these Encore� varieties to look sparse and flower poorly, if at all.  While not necessarily sun worshipers, they prefer morning sun or late afternoon sun.  A minimum of four to six hours of sun is ideal. It would be wise not to expose them to a full days sun, especially the hot sun of our typical Charleston summers.


Most of the Encores� are mounding shrubs with heights reaching approximately four feet with a spread of approximately four feet.  Like other azaleas, these too prefer acidic soil and are shallow rooted.  Once established, they will need occasional watering during extended periods of dry weather. 


Encore� Azaleas do well in our climate and are easier to establish when they are planted in Fall or Winter. New roots produced in the Fall will help the azalea benefit from an early spring root flush so it will flourish during the coming growing season. Although less watering is necessary when planted during the cool season, do not allow the roots to become dry.  It is important to mulch young azaleas to protect them during cold snaps.


Two additional characteristics make this shrub a low maintenance winner.  Seldom if ever do they need pruning as these azaleas easily maintain their shape.  There is also no need to dead head spent flowers.   Additionally, these azaleas are once a year feeders and prefer an azalea fertilizer in Spring.


There are over 15 varieties of Encore� Azaleas ranging in colors from stark white, light pink, dark pink, red, purple and striped flowers in white and pink.   With their tolerance of sun, we are seeing these stunning bloomers as terrific companion plants to the South's other Fall favorite, the Camellia sasanqua.  Both bloom in Fall but with the backdrop of the camellia's shiny evergreen leaves in Spring and Summer, the Encore� Azaleas blooms will burst with color in the forefront of the garden.


Garden Notes
Grow a Garden Journal!

As the seasons change and the cooler weather hinders our ability to actively work in the garden, consider starting a garden journal.  A journal could be as simple as a spiral notebook with your observations, a shoe box with tags from past purchases or a work of art to rival the best of scrapbooks.


A simple journal may be all that you need for your garden, a place to remember the variety of annuals that were planted in the spring and summer and a record  of how they performed.  A listing of perennials that were planted and their spot in the garden would be helpful when we anxiously await the renewal of spring.  Notations of when perennials were divided and how they responded would be useful for the following season.  Keep in mind that this is the perfect time to start planning additions or changes to the garden, jot down plants that have grabbed your attention this season and start mapping out the next season.


If a written journal seems like a chore instead of a joy, consider starting a box or plastic bag for the year.  This is a great place to store all of the tags from your plant purchases; those wonderful sources of information guiding us on how to plant and what to expect from the plants.  Photos of particular plants and the garden also store easily this way.  Seed packets are easily tucked into a box or bag.


A fabulous way to prolong the enjoyment of your garden is to create a scrapbook style journal.  Choose a scrapbook with a 'garden' like cover or a book that has a spot for a beautiful picture of your garden.  While the pages are ideal for photos, tags and pressed flowers, they will also hold notes and observations written on separate sheets of paper or directly onto the scrapbook page.  It is very easy to add pages as needed creating a journal through the years; imagine looking back at pictures and notes from the beginning of the garden through maturity!

As simple or creative as you want to be, a garden journal can be as handy a tool as your shovel; a place to plan and keep ideas for future plantings, a record of the variety of plants that grace your garden, a history of the performance of the garden and most of all a joy to recall the beautiful seasons of your garden. 



Hidden Ponds Nursery
4863 Highway 17 N (next to SeeWee Outpost)
Awendaw, SC
Stay Connected
Like us on Facebook  Find us on Pinterest Follow us on Twitter
5 Things to Do in Your Garden this Month

1.  Rake up leaves and use as mulch in flower beds.

2. Plant cold crop vegetables like kale, lettuce and spinach.

3. Leave the free bird food Black-eyed Susan, Coneflowers and Sunflowers provide for them with spent flower blooms.

4. Plant some mums for a big pop of Fall color.  A perennial, these fall beauties will bloom year after year when planted in the ground.

5. Plant trees, shrubs and perennials.  The soil is still warm and rain is plentiful so planting this time of year gives the roots a chance to grow and gives your plant a head start in the Spring.