December Blooms & More

December offers the stark beauty of naked trees against the contrast of a winter sky. You’ll find blooms, berries, interesting textures and even buds and with them the promise of spring. You’ll find fewer daytime visitors strolling our paths, perfect if you seek quiet reflective time. After 5 p.m. our doors open for visitors enjoy holiday decorations,  s’mores, a fire, and over half a million lights at Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights. Winter offers the rare chance to view our orchid wing at night when many orchids are more fragrant. Elsewhere in the Conservatory you’ll find a 20-foot tree decorated to the hilt, Richmond in miniature made from botanicals, model trains and the aroma of paperwhites filling the air, a giant rainbow of recycled bottles and a pirate’s lair.
Check back for a link to this month’s Bright Spots (PDF) highlighting current blooms and interest.

Camellia ‘Snow Flurry’

Camellia ‘Snow Flurry’ blossoms with hundreds of  white peony-form flowers accented by glossy green foliage. You’ll find it in Lucy Payne Minor Garden along the Cherry Tree Walk. 


This tree-form brilliant red Camellia japonica with yellow stamens stands along the creek in Dot’s Garden (a part of Flagler Garden). Often, when walking by, the blooms floating in the creek bed are just as beautiful as the blooms still on the stem.

Camellia ‘Setsugekka’

Camellia sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’, tall broad leafed evergreen, large white single flowers, petals curled, many yellow stamens in center. You’ll find it in is Lucy Payne Minor Garden along the Cherry Tree Walk at the north end of Lake Sydnor.

Camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’

Camellia sasanqua ‘Winter’s Snowman’ is a delightful evergreen shrub with single white blooms. You’ll find it along the path in Rob’s Garden, part of Flagler Garden.

Razzleberri® Fringe Flower

Our large, mature Loropetalum chinense ‘Monraz’ is unusual because it sweeps overhead! With magenta raspberry-colored blooms and olive and plum foliage, it’s a show-stopper in the Asian Valley.  Typically if you see plantings of the Razzleberri® Fringe Flower elsewhere in Richmond, they are likely to be shrub forms, not tree forms with branches arching above.  It’s a lovely sight to see in December against the contrast of a simpler landscape.  Best of all, this beauty blooms nearly year-round!


Winterberry, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold,’ tall shrub with abundant golden berries. You’ll find it along the Main Garden Path.

Crepe Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica berries and bark provide insteresting texture and contrast. You’ll find these southern favorites all over the Garden.

Foamy Bells

We love the ruffly, heart-shaped brown and bright green textured leaves of Heucherella ‘Solar Eclipse.’ It’s a gem among many winter highlights in Dot’s Garden, part of Flagler Garden.

Sweet Azalea

Sweet Azalea or Rhododendron arboresecens offers the promise of spring blooms, but these buds are beautiful in their own right. Yellow and red layers of energy bursting skyward allow you to enjoy the beautiful simplicity of the form of this plant without the distraction of leaves.  You’ll find them in Flagler Garden.

Eastern Hemlock

Eastern hemlock or Tsuga canadensis has that piney scent you associate with the holidays. This species is known for its small cones and flat tiny foliage, creating a graceful form and lacy branch pattern.  The cones offer texture and contrast in their simple beauty.  No part of this species is poisonous. Poisonous hemlocks are herbaceous perennials in the parsley family.  You’ll find  it in Flagler Garden.

Holly 'Emily Bruner'

Nothing says December like holly!  Our Ilex X ‘Emily Bruner’ looks even more lovely in the rain. You’ll find types of holly all over the Garden, but this spectacular trio of mature specimens are in  Flagler Garden.


Bougainvillea x ‘Monka’ Oo-la-la® makes a statement with its magenta-red flower bracts on climbing branches shooting all the way up to the ceiling in the Conservatory!

Aloe ‘Grassy Lassie’

Aloe ‘Grassy Lassie’  is a succulent plant with low blue-green leaves and coral-orange flowers above. You’ll find these beauties in the West Wing of the Conservatory.

Dominion GardenFest of Lights

Well they aren’t exactly blooms, but with over half a million lights in the Garden during Dominion GardenFest of Lights, it seems like we can’t have a December blooms page without mentioning them! Enjoy the Garden during the day, then come back at night to enjoy our other beauties.  Here’s an idea of what you’ll see when you walk through the Asian Valley at night.