This image, of an osteospermum flower still trying to bloom in a snow-covered container on the deck, tells the story of this November’s weather volatility – 60 degrees (F) one day and snowing the next. I took this photo two days ago. The next morning, the arctic cold arrived here and temperatures dipped down into the teens, putting an end to this year’s outdoor bloom season. While we have been spared the extreme cold and heavy snows that have been visited upon some other parts of the country, our current weather is still more characteristic of December than November.
This is the time of year when my attention shifts from outdoor blooms to those indoors. Although my potted cyclamen are not entirely happy with their temporary home crowded together in front of a small east-facing window, they are happy enough to bloom – just in time for their colorful flowers and perfect pleated buds to provide joy in the dreary month of November.
Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see outdoor and indoor blooms in gardens around the world.
Recently, I’ve been faced with a houseplant dilemma. As the seemingly endless construction on my house continues, I’ve been living in the north-facing rooms at the back of the house and have been cut off from my usual sunny south-facing plant windows. This has been particularly problematic for my flowering houseplants. For a while, I had my pots of flowering cyclamen sitting on the dining room table in front of the sliding glass door, thinking that they would get enough light there; but when I noticed their stunted flowers and long spindly stems straining toward the light, I realized they were not happy and moved them to a small east-facing window in the mudroom, where they are doing better.
In late August, when nights got too cool to leave houseplants out on the deck and I brought them all indoors, I dealt with the space crunch by taking all my amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs out of their pots and storing them in paper bags for eight weeks of dormancy. But as October turned into November, it was time to put them back in pots and give them sun and warmth – conditions that I am decidedly lacking at the moment – to encourage growth and bloom.
When I finished the potting process (which included dividing some bulbs that had formed pups), I had 12 pots that I needed to find suitable spaces for. So I sent out an email message to friends looking for temporary foster homes. I quickly got three volunteers; and at the end of last week, I delivered 3 pots to Joyce’s sunroom, 3 pots to Judy’s bay window, and 2 to a sunny spot on the floor in front of Anne’s glass patio door. The remaining pots, with small bulbs that are unlikely to flower this year, will squeeze in with the cyclamen in front of my sunny, east-facing window.
I’m sure that my bulbs will be fine in their foster homes, but I hope that my new plant window in the living room will be ready to welcome them home in 2-3 weeks.
In Maine, November is the month of transition from fall to winter. This year, the transition seems to be more dramatic than usual. I awoke on November 1 to find some flowers still in bloom – not in the garden proper, but in a container planting on the deck. I cannot remember ever before having flowers last into November.
But then November 2 brought a major snowstorm to much of the state, unusually early for snow here. Some areas in eastern Maine got more than a foot of heavy, wet snow, bringing down power lines. As of this evening, two days after the storm, more than 50,000 electric customers were still without power and several towns had scrambled to set up alternatives for polling places that were without power. I was very lucky to be on the western fringe of this storm; we had mostly rain, with a few snowflakes mixing in from time to time but no snow accumulation. I’m just not ready for snow yet.
In general, November in Maine is nothing to cheer about. It is, on average, the rainiest month of the year here. And this rain generally falls when temperatures are in the thirties, making it raw as well as wet. Sometimes the wind-driven rain feels like it is verging on icy needles of sleet.
I think the whole point of November in Maine is to prepare us psychologically for winter. At the beginning of November, we don’t feel ready for winter. But November is dreary, and when the temperatures dip low enough for the precipitation to fall as snow instead of rain in late November or early December, we will greet the snow with pleasure. After weeks of hunkering down indoors against the cold, raw, wet weather of November, snow brings a lightness that encourages us to get out and play.
In my Maine garden, October is turning into November. Last week brought a string of cold, rainy days that provided a preview of November and a reminder of why no Mainer has ever declared November their favorite month. By the time the storm passed, most of the vivid fall foliage for which New England is famous had been stripped from the trees.
But as I walked around the garden yesterday doing my weekly inventory of what’s in bloom (the last for this year), I found lots of late fall color. Although many leaves, including the scarlet and orange maple (Acer) leaves, have already turned and fallen from the trees, color can be found on other trees that hang onto many of their leaves through winter. The leaves on the oak (Quercus) trees mostly have muted russet tones.
|Here and there, though, an oak tree shows brighter colors against a clear blue October sky.|
|The beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves turn from green to gold to copper.|
These colors are mirrored in the colors of hostas going into dormancy and in the yellows and golds of Amsonia foliage glowing in the slanted rays of the afternoon sun.
Some scarlet hues can be found in the foliage of hardy geranium and of Spirea japonica.
There is also a surprising amount of green to be found among the foliage of late fall perennials, including hardy geraniums, Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and Heuchera.
Here and there among the foliage, there are still some flowers providing late fall color. These include some tiny blooms of Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet,’ red clover (Trifolium pratense), the amazingly long-lasting Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice,’ and flowers on chives that have somehow been fooled into thinking its spring.
All too soon, the predominant color in my garden will be the white of snow. But I’m enjoying these late fall colors while they last.
In the blue and yellow border, the last fading flowers of Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’ and Rudbeckia x ‘Herbstsonne’ are looking a bit frost-bitten.
|The flowers of the cold-hardy aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ have fared much better.And the flowers of Sedum spectabile have darkened to the deep wine color that signals their transition from bloom to seedhead.|
|Last, but not least, my stalwart Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice,’ which has been blooming continuously in the deck border since early June shows no signs of slowing down, seemingly unfazed by cold temperatures or whispers of winter to come.
Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Links on her blog can provide a virtual tour of gardens around the world, including southern hemisphere gardens that are boasting spring blooms.
Throughout the summer and fall, the much-anticipated addition to my house has been proceeding – albeit slowly. This addition will provide the opportunity to create a whole new front garden, which I will begin working on next spring. Meanwhile, in response to popular demand, the following slide show provides a time-lapse few of the project.
One of the splendors of the Maine landscape is that so much of it is wild, including the great north woods and other undeveloped rural lands. As autumn settles in and the plants in my Maine garden go dormant, my attention turns more and more to what I call the “wild garden” – the (mostly) native plants blooming vibrantly along the edges of the woods and the sides of local country roads.
Late varieties of Solidago are still glowing with the bright golden hues that give them their common name of “goldenrod.”
And this is the prime season for native asters. Most are fairly demure, with small flowers in shades of white, lavender and lilac.
|But the clear star of the fall aster display is not at all demure. Whenever I see the blooms of New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), a tall (4’-7’) plant with big showy flowers in shades of deep pink and violet, my heart beats faster.|