Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for December 10, 2018
Christmas is a time of decorating and we pay a lot of attention to the Christmas tree and poinsettias inside the house.As I drive around at night there are also a lot of lights, manger scenes and inflatables in the yards that add to the outside Christmas decorations.
Another aspect to consider is your daytime lawn decorations. It is possible to add landscape plants that will give you some winter and holiday color that will be with you all year long. There is no better time than now to make those decisions while all of your holiday decorations are up.
We tend to think more about spring and summer flowers, but there are flowering plants that can add cheer to your winter landscape at a time when color is sparse.
You need not think farther than grandma’s house and the old southern gardens for inspiration. Two very traditional plants that come to mind are Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua.
Camellia japonica is a nice evergreen shrub to small tree. Camellias will grow best in partial sun understory. They produce 5 inch blooms in winter to early spring and in an array of colors. There are lots of reds, pinks, whites and variegated varieties. Look in the nursery now to see which ones will be in bloom for the Christmas season.
Camellia sasanquas have a smaller flower than the japonica but tend to flower earlier in the fall and into early winter. They also tend to have darker foliage which gives you better contrast for the smaller blooms. Again you have lots of variety and color choices with a lot in the red, crimson, rose and pink families. There is variety known as Yule Tide because of its striking red blooms and bright yellow stamens that are in bloom for Christmas. Another variety to look at is called Shi Shi which is more of a rose colored flower but a very prolific bloomer.
Shrub roses offer another late fall to early winter splash of color. Even with the cold weather I see a number of Knock Out roses that have started to bloom again. Shrub roses will go through a number of blooming cycles and this far south we tend to have roses in bloom most times of the year, with late fall being one of their typical blooming periods.
Berries are another way to incorporate winter color and attract wildlife also. There are a number of plants in the holly family that are prolific berry producers. You can select from an array of shrubs and small trees. Two small native trees that would work are American Holly and Yaupon. American Holly has a natural Christmas tree shape and produces lots of red berries. What you can find in retail that will give you good berry production against evergreen foliage is Savanah Holly, Fosteri Holly and Nellie Stevens Holly. Oakland Holly has some really interesting foliage with red berries, while Yaupon grows as an upright tree or there is a more gracious weeping form.
Pyracantha is another berry producing shrub that offers a finer texture. You can use it in a mass planting or as an espalier. Now would be a good time to select your plants to make sure the berries are the color you like, they can range from orange to red.
The old traditional nandina shrub, Nandina domestica, is a good red berry producer with the added benefit of good red foliage in the winter.
Christmas berry just sounds right.It is also known as Ardisia, which is a small evergreen shrub that is native along the Amite River and is sold in the trade. It is a shade loving shrub with dark green foliage and bright red berries.
The good news is that these decorations will not require you to pack them up and they will not take up space in your attic, but you will get to enjoy them year round.