The November Garden



November is a sort of in-between month. Our warm days are gone, and we are into, what I would call, a typical Oregon fall season. The daylight hours are shorter, the rainy season is here, day and nighttime temperatures are cool and sometimes cold. Yet, there are still many plants providing color with flowers, foliage, and berries.

On this November day, my hardy fuchsias are still blooming and show no signs of letting up. In my own garden and others that I visit, hardy fuchsias have been amazing this year. They seem to perform equally well in both pots and planted in the ground. Contrary to popular belief that they need shade, many in my garden receive sun for most of the day. They should continue blooming until we get a frost, although with continuing days of rain and cold weather, their bloom will diminish.  As an added precaution to give the roots some protection during the winter months, I add 3-4 inches of compost around the base of each plant. Black Gold Garden Compost Blend would be ideal. Some gardeners prune the branches severely after a frost, but I have found that sometimes branches that appear to be dead are actually not and new buds will appear in spring.

It is not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs, favorites like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses are the most common. All of these do well in pots, and it can be fun to try different combinations. Using Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix should get your bulbs off to a good start. Try planting crocus around the rim of the pot and then plant pansies over the top for instant winter color.

Many gardeners like to try new plants or bulbs in their garden. While tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses are the mainstream spring flowering bulbs, Galanthus, (Snowdrop), should not be overlooked. Bulbs can be planted now and, in the spring, they will be among the first bulbs to bloom as the winter is ending. Their clumps of nodding bell-shaped flowers are pure white and are a delight to see on a winter day. Snowdrops are a good plant for a rock garden as well as for under shrubs where they can be allowed to naturalize. They prefer a soil rich in humus such as Black Gold Garden Soil. Work this into the soil at the time of planting.

There are also many deciduous trees that provide us with some spectacular fall color.

Certainly, one of the best is Oxydendrum, (Sourwood). The autumn foliage can be in shades of orange, red, purple, and all shades in between.

There is a huge array of Japanese Maples to choose from. The leaves can vary widely in shape and color. This is an excellent time to visit an arboretum or your local garden center to see what varieties are available. It is often more accurate to see the leaf color in person rather than relying on a photo. The two below are favorites in my garden.

Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’:

Acer palmatum ‘Fairy Hair’:

Of course, the work in the garden is never done and a few non-plant winter tasks would be to clean and oil the lawn mower, clean and oil and sharpen pruners, rake and compost leaves, and look through seed and plant catalogs to get ideas for spring!

Enjoy the fall garden and don’t be limited to the plants mentioned here, especially regarding leaf color.  The list for trees and shrubs for fall leaf color is vast. Walk around your neighborhood and visit other gardens to get ideas.


About Mike Darcy

Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969. He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners. Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening. To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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