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Botanist Lens: Best foot forward before the deep of winter sets in

It is turning out to be a slow-paced beautiful fall so far this year. The warm fall leaf colors of the Black Gum, Maple and Gingko trees are a stark contrast to the Oaks and other deciduous trees that are still holding on to their greens and seem far from dropping their leaves.

The woodland garden canopy layers at London Town have some stunning hidden treasures that are stealing the show with their bold colors amongst the deep green layers. Orange and pink mostly looks good on flower petals, but for a plant like Euonymous americanus, the fruit and seeds get to show off these stunning colors. Euonymus alatus is a more popular species commonly called the "burning bush" with its bright fiery red leaves, used often as a border bush. But the more elegant Euonymus species is the americanus that is a native.

Euonymus americanus is also commonly called the “hearts A’busting” or the “strawberry bush” because of its gorgeous fruit with orange seeds hanging out. The plant has a rather airy habit and is well suited for clay soils, shaded woods and prefers well drained yet wet feet. As stunning as the colors on the fruits are, the red should probably be taken as a warning, because the fruits are poisonous. This shrub is a gorgeous addition to any garden bed, more so in a naturalized area, but beware since the deer love it. In fact it also called as the 'ice-cream plant' for the deer! At London Town you can enjoy a well grown E. americanus right by one of our main paths that is close to the natural areas. The deer probably leave it alone because of the hard wood on it, it is at least 15 years old.

Another stunning beauty that is stealing the show in the beginning of the woodland garden is the Witch Hazel Hamamelis intermedia which has fiery red leaves. All year round this shrub is pretty inconspicuous, but as fall approaches, it is the highlight of the garden, each day turning more intense.

I am also sharing today pictures of Camelia sinensis and some other Camellia species. Camellias have just sent out their first blooms at London Town, and I have to share them with you. Notice a spider hanging upside down enjoying the tea plant blooms. If you look closely, the C. sinensis flowers hang downwards, kind of hidden under foliage. I also captured yellow cucumber beetle which is mostly harmless to the plant. The ants on the leaves or open flowers are however a sign that the aphids might be attacking the Camellias.

"Aphids are small green ant-like insects that are usually visible in the spring when the new growth appears. You can treat with insecticides to control aphids which can damage the foliage on your camellias. Aphids also attract ants that feed on their secretions" (…). Scales on Camellias can also cause damage and should be removed.

London Town has fall and spring blooming Camellias. Both of which were test species of Dr. William Ackerman. The bloom time for these range from October to March. As more blooms open up in this window, we will be sharing more pictures. Of all blooms though, C. sinensis the "tea plant," is one of the most fragrant. Very subtle creamy white flower with a very lingering fragrance. The best part of the shrub are of course the shiny leaves with its high caffeine content.

These plants are a quick snapshot of the fall colors and blooms at London Town. Come on site to enjoy more!

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