I was surprised to see winter-blooming camellias flowering alongside hot pink fibrous begonias in a border at Swanson's Nursery last week. I was reminded we haven't had a real freeze, nor even a hard frost yet, so summer annuals drag on, intermingling with autumn, nearly until Thanksgiving this year.....(although they may well have taken the begonias out by now....)
I believe this is Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka', one of the earliest blooming of the sasanquas. It's one of my favorites for the gleam of its white semi-double, ruffled flowers, shown off against the shiny green leaves. These early-bloomers can lose buds in a frost, but they rally and bloom again during warm spells, all the way through January into February.
Sasanquas tend to be lax plants, perfect for tying up to a fence or screen. At Swansons, the camellia grows up against a fence as background to the border flanking the parking lot.
But a sure sign winter is nearly here is Swanson's annual holiday display...there are plenty of paperwhites, cyclamen, and amaryllis, and also reindeer, and yes, the friendly camel named Curley...