Those Dazzling November Days
In the normal course of events, November is one of the two most dismal months of the year. At least, in my part of the world. An inky blackness falls by 5 PM, the leaves are dead, and a penetrating chill is in the air. (The other most dismal month is February.)
This is what November looked like in my garden last year. The poet Thomas Hood (who lived in the comparatively mild climate of England) expressed the quality of Novemberness when he wrote:
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers. no leaves, no birds –
So far this year, however, it’s as if November got a personality transplant. Days that are mild or even downright warm. Bright blue skies with a mellow, friendly sun. Leaves still changing to their bright autumn hues, but also – flowers! Last year the ground was frozen by now – this year we’re still waiting for a hard frost.
Here’s a picture of that same spot, taken yesterday.
But that’s just the beginning. My ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple has a bold but cheerful green-yellow color scheme. Though admittedly, the ‘Donald Wyman’ crab in the front is completely leafless.
Here’s a closer look.
OK, I know Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus) is invasive, but we inherited this one from the former owners, and Judy won’t let me remove it. Also, as far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to be invasive in this area. But anyhow – that’s a pretty cheerful color for well into November, isn’t it?
Here’s a young Witch Hazel growing (Hamemelis virginiana) in the East Side yard. Three winters in a row it was chewed to the ground by rabbits, then I protected it with hardware cloth. Now it’s growing, and showing its thanks with some nice foliage color. Next year maybe we’ll see some flowers.
This Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba) with the brilliant golden-yellow color is a couple of blocks from my house, but I had to show it anyway. And look at that sky – that is not a November sky.
Normally my Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’) is a straw color by now. This year the color is richer with more gold and orange tones mixed in.
Here’s another couple of pictures of Switchgrass, just because I love it.
Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) doesn’t look quite so different this year, though the leaves are certainly staying green longer.
And flowers? Well, someone seems to have convinced ‘Cassie’ that it’s actually June.
Zinnias, Heleniums, and Gaillardia – like a bunch of energetic toddlers, none of them seem ready to go to sleep.
I’m trying to enjoy this suspiciously sweet November. It’s hard not to feel, though, that winter is lurking around the corner. It’s chuckling maliciously to itself, waiting for us to get completely comfortable, before hitting us with a massive blizzard and sub-zero temperatures. But perhaps not.
Has November been acting strange where you live?