By Norman Winter, ‘The Garden Guy’
The word spring conjures up visions of azaleas and camellias blooming in glorious sequence, creating floral displays that bring out the Monet in all of us. With the debut of Encore® Azaleas more than 20 years ago, something magical and transformational happened – fall became like spring.
For those of us that plant and grow Encore® Azaleas, this happens every year. These 31 azaleas (each bearing the first name Autumn), repeat bloom throughout the summer culminating in a final dazzling display in the fall. This autumn “encore” flowering coincides perfectly with the bloom of the 18 camellias found in the Southern Living® Plant Collection.
Pictured: October Magic Pink Perplexion
Southern Living® Plant Collection camellias are comprised of 11 in the October Magic® series, and 7 other extraordinary selections. All are known for their glossy deep green foliage so beautiful you would love them even if they never bloomed. Their stately habit and appearance are ideal as the bones or evergreen structure so needed in every landscape. Of course, they do bloom in the fall, usually with more flowers than you could possibly count – bringing in bees and butterflies, too.
So, whether your Encores bloom early-, mid- or late-fall, know there are several camellias in the Southern Living® Plant Collection that will work within your favorite color palette. They come in a range of mature heights from 3- to 4-feet like October Magic® White Shi-Shi™ and October Magic® Ruby™, to those as statuesque as a large holly-like the semi-double rose-red Alabama Beauty™ and pristine white Diana™.
LR: Autumn Ivory, Early Wonder Camellia, and Autumn Moonlight.
There is also a special Camellia japonica in the Southern Living® Plant Collection called Early Wonder®. Indeed, it is a wonder, as this incredible formal double often starts blooming in September – even in Savannah. Typically, Camellia japonica varieties bloom months later in late winter and spring.
Early Wonder® reaches 6- to 8-feet tall and 4- to 6-feet wide, and is exquisite with its lavender rose blooms. It has a long bloom season that partners well with virtually all Encore® Azaleas – especially those in glistening white like the dwarf Autumn Ivory™ and the taller Autumn Moonlight™.
Whether your favorite colors of Encore azaleas are pink, purple, white, red or bi-colored, Southern Living® Plant Collection camellias offer you choices that will form a perfect marriage in your landscape.
LR: Autumn Bonfire, Yuletide Camellia, and Christmas Jewel Holly
If you would like a sensational holiday display, red, green, gold and white are all options when you start by selecting the ‘Yuletide’ Camellia sasanqua. Actually, this plant is the stand-alone, iconic Christmas decoration with deeply saturated red flowers reminiscent of Santa’s suit. In the middle of each bloom are long golden stamens looking like tinsel, and of course, the backdrop is the deep dark green glossy leaves.
Why stop there? Partner ‘Yuletide’ with red Encores like Autumn Bonfire™ and white selections like Autumn Moonlight™. We think for this particular garden, the Christmas Jewel® Holly loaded with bright red berries would add a most picturesque touch.
With Encore® Azaleas and Southern Living® Plant Collection’s Camellias, it’s not really a second spring, but a new fall – one packed with blooms (yes, azaleas and camellias), golden leaves and Saturday football. We can hardly wait!
Planning the landscape is part of the fun. Visit www.southernlivingplants.com to see all of the varieties in our camellia collection and other proven plants for the landscape.