November is an interesting transition month. The last remaining plants of the year continue to put out a few blooms, although they certainly fade from their former glory, but taking over from them are the early harbingers of spring. Already, the first snowdrops are blooming and the Mahonia flower buds are coloring up, letting you know that they are ready to take on winter. In my garden, there is another layer that adds color through the winter. Many of the South African and Australian plants bloom during winter, and the Grevillea ‘Coastal Gem’ has been covered in a mass of red buds for over a month now. It is just waiting for the right moment to burst open. Other Grevillea are also blooming, but not with the same kind of flower density.
A new beginning
This is also the month when seeds and bulbs come pouring in, creating a temporary frenzy of activity. Many of the bulbs already had their location picked out when they were ordered, but each year I try out a few new things and I like to keep those in pots for the first year so that I can see them up close and under more controlled conditions.
Seeds are more difficult to obtain these days due to restrictions or conditions that were put in place during Covid. South Africa remains in a state that can only be described as close to collapse. Their mail system is no longer trustworthy and seeds from there have to wait for a courier to take them out of the country to somewhere like England, and then they are mailed form there. That is a tough journey for some of these seeds. Australia has put in place a lot more restrictions and many of the companies I used in the past no longer entertain international orders. But still – I have lot of things to try and germinate. With many of them, it will be years before I really see the fruits of my efforts.
Little progress has been made this month, primarily due to a continuing medical condition. But there has been progress on the stream bed and waterfall. It starts in what will be Nature Island and ends up in the Fairy garden. The bottom part of it was nearing completion, but the upper stream bed was non-existent. The ground has now been cleared. That meat getting up a number of mature Sword Ferns and moving those along to the property border. My experience has been that these ferns are tough as nails when it comes to this kind of relocation.
The land has been contoured, and most of the underground pipework is in. Now it is a matter of working out where I can put in some small margin and bog areas, building the sides and then mortaring everything in place and sealing all the joints. The mortar is necessary based on my experience with raccoons. Once they damage a butyl rubber liner, there is almost no hope of every fully sealing it again, especially if it is in an area that is not totally flat.
What’s in Bloom
Out with the old
These are a few of the plants that continue to bloom. Fuchsia and Salvia hang on with fewer flowers than they used to have. Plus, it is easy to forget some of them, like the Rosemary, that are almost always in bloom.
Toad lilies (tricyrtis hirta) come in some amazing colors and patterns. This is one I grew from seed.
And the Hesperanthus just refuse to give up.
In with the new
These are the first harbingers of spring. This was the first snowdrop of the year.
And the Mahonia media ‘Charity’ getting ready to bloom
Not blooms, but great anyways
There are many plants that have insignificant flowers, but have other ways to put on a wonderful display. Here is a Leucadendron ‘Hawaii Magic’ that has colorful bracts.
To look at the averages for this year, you would think that it was very similar to last year. This year, the high was 64.6, low 34.7 and average 46.1. Last year the high was 63.6, low 38.1 and an average of 50.4. Rainfall this year was 17.71″ versus 19.68″. But behind the numbers is a very big difference. This year we went two weeks with no rain! It didn’t feel like November at all, with the sun shining. The clear nights meant that it was a little colder and that is what accounted for most of the lower average temperature. Last year saw some rain almost every day. I would certainly take this year over last year, even though at one point I had to go out and water some plants!