"Flowery, fragrant November"

I love this month!
Saturday, 11 November 2017        

White form of Justicia carnea

November has always been one of my favourite months of the year. As a kid, it was because of the excitement of planning my birthday party at the end of the month, as well as the knowledge that the end of the school year was fast approaching, with the joyful prospect of what seemed then to be eternal summer holidays. Now as a gardener, the month of November now signals to me the time of year when my garden really starts to come together fully and (sort of) realise my vision of what I want it to be.

I don't have much of a spring garden, because my focus is on plants that come into their own from mid-October to May, giving us six months of glorious colour, texture and form, rather than the brief (albeit gorgeous) period of spring in Sydney. November brings the purple smudge of Jacaranda trees across the skyline and banks of Hydrangea flowers come into bloom: mopheads and lacecaps of white and shades of blue and pink (depending on the pH of the soil). Hydrangea flowers will last for a long time but nothing can compare to their pristine perfection in November. Joining them in shady places are the tousled flower heads of Justicia carnea in colours of pink and white; the white and green floral candelabra of Albuca altissima; the starry clouds of Arthropodium cirratum; and carpets of groundcovering Campanula poscharskyana and Saxifraga stolonifera with their dainty blooms.

Daylilies are one of the stars of sunny borders in my November garden. Though each flower only lasts a day, there is a profusion of buds on a well-established clump, and they come in a mind-bogglingly array of hues, patterning and shapes. I am particularly fond of the elegant spidery forms and the miniatures, but all daylilies are lovely. Dahlia are getting into their stride now and will flower until April if deadheaded regularly. I prefer the smaller-growing forms, which have a huge array of flower colours. Alstroemeria are also generous bloomers in pretty colours: the tall-stemmed ones are great for picking for vases, whilst the low-growing clump-forming ones form a colourful mound.

In sunny spots, many Salvia are beginning their long blooming period. Over the years I have tried many different species and cultivars but am now concentrating on growing those with the longest flowering season. Purple-flowered Salvia 'Amistad', red-violet 'Love and Wishes' and maroon-bloomed 'Van Houtteii' are probably among the best, being in bloom basically all year round. The myriad cultivars of Salvia microphylla and its hybrids with other small-leaved species also flower prolifically and are excellent choices for compact spaces, growing to less than a metre tall. Current favourites include baby-pink 'Angel Wings' and soft-blue 'Mesa Azure'. One of the very first Salvia plants I ever grew, 'Indigo Spires', will always have a place in my garden too.

Fragrance is also a vital dimension of the November garden for me. The perfume of the thick tresses of star jasmine flowers pervade the garden and create a sense of season. Potted Gardenia shrubs at my front door are in bloom, exuding their haunting scent that seems to encapsulate the promise of a perfect summer: warm, sunny days and balmy evenings! The honeyed aroma of Buddleja panicles also begins to fill the air now. They seem to be at their very best in late spring and early summer, but if they are deadheaded, they will rebloom until early autumn. Silvery-leaved 'Lochinch' (ht 2 m) is one of my firm favourites, but I have also become enamoured of the lower-growing cultivars now available, including the 'Buzz' series, of which I grow a deep magenta one and a white-flowered one. These grow to around 1 m in height. Last week I was given an even more compact cultivar called 'Blue Chip Jr', with blue-purple flowers, one of the 'Lo & Behold' series, said to grow to just 60 cm tall and to flower over a long period.

Other scented plants in flower in my garden at the moment, bringing much delight, include shrubby Philadelphus and Murraya paniculata, a tree-like Brugmansia and heliotrope. I'd love to hear about what you are enjoying in your November garden!

 Reader Comments

1/11  Terry - 3971 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 13 November 2017

Lovely to hear from you..... Cheers.... Ierry

2/11  Linda - 2119 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 November 2017

The most succinct guide EVER to creating a Sydney garden of spring colour, fragrance and joy! Thanks so much, Linda! Deirdre

3/11  Anton - Hong Kong Monday, 13 November 2017

Sounds like the best of all worlds! Im mpressed Justicia carnea is hardy in Sydney. I love the white one. Think I might try it if it does in Sydney. We cant grow all those Spring wonders like Hydrangea, Campanula and Alstroemaria we"re just too tropical in summer and not cold enough in winter. But then just too cool in winter for the likes of the exclusively tropical things like Mucuna bennetii, the red jade vine. So we kind of miss out on both scores. Always delighted to discover something new. The white Justicia carnea is very beautiful. Your climate sounds quite a challenge. I guess it is all a matter of trial and error! Semi-tropical things might be the best choice? Deirdre

4/11  Anton - Hong Kong Monday, 13 November 2017

....been trying a number of those more temperate things as annuals, some do extremely well. Very few of the Campanulars do, but Campanula medium, or Canterbury Bells does extremely well as an annual. Flowers for months right through our dry cool winter if I keep the soil moist and water at the base away from the flowers. These we can buy as mature second year plants in full bud. So as they"re biannual by nature its quite a bonus or they would never work. I drool over blogs like these!

5/11  Gaynor - 5044 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 13 November 2017

The fact that your garden sounds absolutely wonderful is no surprise, and I was particularly pleased to see that you have a Justicia carnea. I am from Adelaide and had one under a tree on the northern side of the garden in my very first garden. I have been trying to get one ever since for my current garden. I am always nostalgic for my first garden (40 years ago I left Australia to live overseas), but a lot of the plants I had then don"t seem to be available anymore. I have found one now though. Glad you have found the Justicia, Gaynor. My parents grew it in their garden so like you, I have always loved it. Certainly it seems harder these days to find those sorts of plants, except by getting cuttings from other gardens! Plant fairs are also a good source of hard-to-find plants. Deirdre

6/11  Rosemary - 2320 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 November 2017

November is wonderful here in the Hunter too. I have one pink justica carnea and the big problem with it is that snails love it to a shred. I recently ringed it with snail bait and to my horror, I still found snails on it! I have heard that alstroemeria will keep flowering if the finished stalks as removed as they die; I wondered if this is true or is the secret to long-flowering simply to keep water up to them? Thanks for your fantastic blog - it is my "go to site" for gardening info. I hope the snails will be vanquished soon. Re alstroemeria,I do pull the spent stalks right out. They do flower a long time and I don"t really give them any extra water. Deirdre

7/11  Rhoda - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 13 November 2017

I have had pink Justicia carnea in my garden for some years but struggled to get the white variety. Last year a generous friend gave me a cutting and I now have four young healthy plants, two of which are flowering. They are so rewarding that I can"t help wondering why they are not more readily available. Rhoda 2074 Glad you have been able to get cuttings of that gorgeous plant. I think that nurseries concentrate on things that look good in pots for sale, and plants such as Justicia species don"t really look great till planted in the ground. Deirdre

8/11  Bren - 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Flowering now in my garden is Lotus berthelotti. This ground cover with its (beautiful) brown, yellow and gold flowers is from the Canary Islands. Also about to flower is Datura mealoides, which has clean bold foliage with a purplish tinge, and large equally bold white flowers (which point upwards) that last only a day. I recently saw that Lotus in a friend"s garden nearby It was gorgeous. The Datura sounds good. Deirdre

9/11  Janet - 2322 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Flowering now in my garden the ground covering Lysmachia or Persian Carpet as it is better known, it flowers in abundance with buttercup yellow flowers and really lifts the flower beds. Thanks for your blog it is always inspirational. Regards Jan from the lower Hunter valley Zone 10 I just yesterday was given a pot of this plant! I look forward to growing it. Deirdre

10/11  Helen - 7256 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Rugosa roses just starting & spring shrubs still in bloom weigela (pale pink, rose pink & deep red), kolkwitzia,last of wisteria, still have coral coloured chaenomeles(japonica).Hydrangeas & Lilies in bud including Martagon "Sunny Morning" that was planted winter 2016 and has taken this long to shoot--thought it had died, but have now read that sometimes they take a while to settle in. What has it been up to underground for a whole 18 months while I have been checking the spot & hoping? Your garden sounds a delight.I hope the lily comes up soon! Deirdre

11/11  Rhoda - 2074 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 20 November 2017

In hot weather I shelter more delicate plants from the afternoon sun by using cable ties to attach shade cloth on to adjoining trees, shrubs and/or bamboo stakes. Easy to put on and remove, this works very well. Rhoda That is a great tip, Rhoda! Thank you. Deirdre

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