While many of the garden's plants reach the end of their seasons, others only just get into full swing. November is a perfect time to see these late season bloomers throughout the gardens.
Botanic name: Arbutus unedo Common name: strawberry tree Family: Ericaceae
One of the unexpected November surprises in the garden is this evergreen. Along with its green oblong leaves, you will see tiny white flowers the shape of an upside-down urn, accompanied by a distinctive round red fruit. Interestingly, the flower to fruit cycle takes about a year, so you see both flowers and fruit in various stages of ripeness. The fruit is edible, and is one of the many food sources for birds over the winter.
Botanic name: Hamamelis virginiana Common name: witch hazel Family: Hamamelidaceae
A native of the eastern part of North America, this tree-like shrub delights us in mid-autumn with the brilliance of its yellow leaves. As the leaves begin to fall, the unusual fragrant yellow flowers clinging to its stems appear. Its limbs have been used as dowsing rods, and many other parts of the tree have been included in Native American medicine as well as modern day homeopathic treatments. Fertilized flowers develop seed capsules, which expel two shy black seeds about a year later.
Although they originate in China and Japan, camellia were brought to the U.S. from England. The abundant camellia in the upper garden delight us in the autumn with delicate white or ruffled pink flowers and their broad, deep green leaves, at a timewhen most other trees are losing their leaves. Camellia thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate, so you will see them not only in the botanical garden, but also in many a local yard.
Botanic name: Osmanthus heterophyllus Common name: false holly Family: Oleaceae This visually interesting plant gets part of its name, heterophyllus, meaning different leaves, because it has what appear to be two kinds of leaves on the same plant. In fact, they are different stages of leaf development: the juvenile leaves appear spiny, while the mature leaves have smooth edges. In addition, the bark is black or grey, and cracks into small plates on older plants, which is also visually interesting. This is another autumn bloomer, so you can look for and smell its small fragrant white flowers when most plants are heading into winter dormancy.