Buds and blooms in early November


Today the golden yellow leaves of the ginkgo fell. I don’t know the precise hour, but when I saw the tree a day earlier not one leaf had fallen. This afternoon, it is bare. While most trees drop their leaves quite leisurely over days or weeks, ginkgo is in a hurry once the decision is made. Today the leaves must go, and the quicker the better!

I won’t disturb the yellow carpet (above) for several days as the leaves turn to brown, but they have little substance and are easily swept away by the brisk winds of an incoming cold front.

The thermometer dropped below freezing for the first time this autumn and fallen leaves are piled deep in the garden, but some hardy blooms remain. There is little doubt that this is temporary, and as overnight temperatures fall into the twenties many flower buds will not open. Still, there are a few days or weeks to appreciate blooms before the drab gray of winter.

‘Winter’s Joy’ camellia (above) has begun to bloom, but the buds of the late autumn blooming ‘Winter Star’ have not yet opened, though they are fat and ready. ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia (below) is just beginning to bloom, and will often display its cheerful yellow spikes along with the camellias late into December and sometimes into January.

Other bloomers refuse to give in to the early cold, though they have been flowering for many months. Most of the shrubs roses have bloomed continuously since May, with only short periods of rest. Knockout roses (a bud of Pink Knockout rose, below) will often bloom into late November, and there are numerous buds that will open so long as extreme cold doesn’t injury them.  

The reblooming hydrangeas (Endless Summer and Penny Mac, below) were slowed in setting new buds through the severe heat in August, and have flowered more sparsely than is usual this autumn. Now, there are a few flowers, some buds just opening, and others that will fade with a few days of temperatures in the twenties. 

Several cultivars of reblooming Encore azaleas (‘Sundance’, below) began their late summer bloom cycle in mid-August, weeks earlier than is usual. Now, through ten weeks, buds have opened a few handfuls at a time, not an overwhelming display as in mid-spring, but delightful nonetheless. The remaining flowers and buds will be short lived with the low temperatures expected over the next week. 

A few cultivars of toad lilies (Tricyrtis, above and below) bloomed early in August and still have a few flowers remaining, while others bloomed late and faded early. Some flowers have been damaged by the chill, while others show no cold injury.

Black and Blue salvia (below) has been blooming since mid-summer, and until the past few weeks bumblebees were constant visitors. Their bodies are too large to allow the bumblebee to sample the sweet nectar, so they bite through the base of the vase shaped bloom.  

The pink ‘September Charm’ Japanese windflower bloomed late, beginning in early October, but has faded more quickly than the white ‘Whirlwind’ (below). Several marble sized buds remain, and the flowers seem not to mind the overnight cold, so perhaps they will bloom as long as temperatures don’t dip too low.

Plumbago, or leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, below) blooms merrily along through the late summer. Never a knockout, not covered in blooms, but a quite nice, well behaved ground cover with a sprinkling of blooms. In the garden the foliage of the green leafed cultivar turns to red in early autumn (though its blooms have pooped out), but the yellow leafed version does not turn (and it continues to bloom).

I have had mixed success with Rozanne geranium (below) over the years, and though this highly regarded perennial is tough as nails for most, I have managed to kill it a time or two. Perhaps too dry, or shady in the past, but now Rozanne seems quite content, and has been blooming for many months. 

I expect to be singing a different tune in another week, perhaps two if temperatures moderate, and though camellias and mahonia will continue to flower for another month or longer, I will enjoy the last remnants of summer’s blooms.

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