Treasures of the November garden

There are wonders to be seen any day in the garden, not only this garden, but in many, no matter the season. Certainly, there are a few to be excited about in early November, and not only colorful leaves. At the start of the month there are many more flowers than expected or typical, and for visitors who figure that there is some special treatment that yields late blooms, I can verify there is not. I can’t explain why Rankin jasmine (Gelsemium rankinii, below) is flowering, or why several toad lilies and reblooming azaleas have survived multiple frosts and thirty-one degrees and continue to bloom.

The stray late blooms of Canyon Creek abelia (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’, below) are a bit unusual, but there were many flowers until a succession of frosts a few weeks ago, and no doubt the abnormally warm October has much to do with this. Hydrangeas (‘Bloomstruck’ hydrangea, below) have been a slight disappointment in late summer and early autumn, but a few stray buds are developing that might or might not survive through cold temperatures that are inevitable in November.

Despite the out of the ordinary number of blooms, this is far from my favored time in the garden, which is clearly in decline. Leaves of Japanese maples turning shades from yellow to burgundy guarantee that in days or weeks the trees will be bare, as some already are. A few shrubs stand against the early cold, but it will not be long before blue-green leaves of paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, below) turn to yellow and drop, almost overnight following a night that drops into the mid-twenties. I am encouraged that its buds, that will flower anywhere from early February to mid March, are prominent and in abundance. I’ve noted recently that several paperbushes have grown with unusual vigor this year, with pruning of select branches required before spring to salvage hostas and spireas that could be overwhelmed. 


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