Oh No, Not November.

But like it or not, here we are with dark, late afternoons and our gardens closing down for the winter. Yesterday was Halloween and we had pumpkins and  for some of us there were ghosts floating round the garden.


Actually this was taken very early this morning before it was properly light. I was trying to catch a heron taking off, but the ghost got in the way. When I went outside the only ghostly figures were my three tree ferns wrapped up in their fleecey vests. Hector didn’t think much of them at all and was convinced that they are up to no good, standing there flaunting their underwear. When it gets really cold they will get tartan blankets and look respectable.

But the leaves haven’t all fallen off yet and we still have  colour to enjoy.
The little bonfire you can see on the right of the weeping birch is Cotinus ‘Grace’  which is particularly good in autumn.

Cotinus 'Grace'

Cotinus ‘Grace’

The area round here is getting a face lift. The soil is gritty and there are stones and the remains of a path so it must have been an an alpine bed once. Now, it is full of ground elder, bindweed and other rubbish so I am giving it a big clear out and then I will put down a membrane, relay the stones and cover it with grit and it will have a new lease of life once the weeds have been killed off. Life is too short to spend  time trying to keep areas like this looking decent when they are full of pernicious weeds and dying roses. Next time you see it, I hope it will be transformed..
The other area keeping me busy at the moment is the last of the six silly little island beds which covered this garden like a rash. Alan Bloom of Foggy Bottom, Bressingham had a lot to answer for in the 70s, when he encouraged everyone to create island beds and grow heather and conifers. They may look good at Bressingham because the beds are huge, but downsized into the average sized garden they look ridiculous. This particular one had a massive holly, buddleias, a flowering currant and fuchsias, underplanted with ajuga. For goodness sake, the people who used to live here shouldn’t have been allowed into the garden if this was the best they could come up with. I thought I would have to get a tree surgeon in to get rid of the holly, but the Pianist amazed me by felling it himself with his chainsaw. It feel neatly just where he said it would, apparently he used algorithms or something to work it all out. No harm was done to my veggy beds or the Pianist himself. He fell over in the village shop the next day and had to go to A&E and have his hand stitched up after slicing it on the display cabinet. But he chopped down a huge holly with not so much as a scratch.


I know I really shouldn’t let Mr Clum near a chainsaw. He once fell out of an apple tree whilst using it. He had the presence of mind to throw it away and he was quite unharmed, but the sight of it will stay with me forever.

Anyway, I now I have the stumps to worry about. I need a man with a mattock and bulging muscles. Obviously, the one I’ve got, with hands all wrapped up in bandages like Frankenstein won’t be much good for this.
When it is finally cleared it will be lawn and that is the last of the useless little beds.

Other autumn leaves looking good right now are some of the witch hazels in either yellow or orange.

Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame looks beautiful in spring and again now in autumn. What a pity it has cerise pink flowers in summer which clash most awfully with the foliage. Every summer I  threaten it with eviction and then I forgive it again in autumn,.

Spirea japonica 'Goldflame'

Spirea japonica ‘Goldflame’

Forsythia is rather common and such a strident yellow in spring. I got rid of most of them, but I left just one. It does have excellent autumn colour.



The snakesbark acer, Acer hersii colours quite well.

Acer hersii

Acer hersii

I have a little Acer griseum and I am looking forward to it growing up a bit to show off its cinnamon-coloured peeling bark. It is growing with the rare Chrysanthemum ‘Belle’ which I got from Plant Heritage.

Acer griseum Chrysanthemum 'Belle'

Acer griseum Chrysanthemum ‘Belle’

I have several acers but none of them are as wonderful for autumn tints as the ones my daughter and I saw at East Bergholt arboretum on Saturday. We decided the very best were these two. They are both going straight to the top of the wish list.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'

Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’

Acer palmatum 'Villa Taranto'

Acer palmatum ‘Villa Taranto’

But autumn is the time for berries and fruit too. My garden is full of hollies. Perhaps the Pianist can get rid of some more. In the meantime they are good for berries in winter and the birds enjoy them. This one is growing by a huge Malus ‘Hornet’. The yellow crab apples look good now but they turn brown and look awful later.
I have just bought a crab apple for the winter garden.It is Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’. The fruit are long lasting and should hang on, looking good  all winter.

Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel'

Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

I have one shrub in bloom right now and it is the pretty Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganipinensis ‘Soft Caress’. A pity about the tongue twister of a name but the leaves are soft and willowy.

Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis ‘Soft Caress’

At ground level there is bright red foliage on this euphorbia. I can’t remember which it is, but it could be Euphorbia palustris.



I bought bergenias for the winter garden for lovely winter foliage. One of them is already colouring up. It is Bergenia ‘Mrs. Crawford’.

Bergenia 'Mrs,Crawford'

Bergenia ‘Mrs,Crawford’

As for flowers, the asters are going over but there are still plenty of dahlias and more chrysanthemums are coming out each day.
This dahlia is a bit big and blowsy, it was a bargain supermarket buy last year. Still it is quite eye -catching in the winter garden.
I quite like the next one but it was misnamed. It was supposed to be the sumptuous dark red ‘Arabian Night’.


Still looking pretty in pink are these three.

And under the trees there are autumn crocus to enjoy.
Well,on second thoughts perhaps November is not so bad after all.

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56 Responses to Oh No, Not November.

  1. A most enjoyable commentary. No ghosts here, just mosquitoes. The Cotinus is indeed beautiful and my dogs would be leery of shrubbery in blankets (and being male, feel compelled to mark it thus removing the plants) I am intrigued you can grow the Soft Caress Mahonia there, we always had trouble with its cold hardiness. The magic of England. And I agree with your assessment of the useless bed, you are creating a vast improvement. Nowadays I think that about the popular weird, tiny garden rooms.

  2. Yes, you should be more kind to November. It is certainly nice to you! But poor Pianist, I imagine he looks much like the tree ferns. How unfair to have a nasty fall after being so helpful.

    • Chloris says:

      No, the Pianist doesn’ t really look like the tree fern, only his fingers are wrapped up. They look much better now.
      November starts off ok but then descends into darkness and sogginess.

  3. Kris P says:

    November in your garden is wonderful! The Acers ‘Ozakazuki’ and ‘Villa Taranto’ would be worthy additions – they’re knock ’em dead gorgeous. I debated whether to select a purple Cotinus or ‘Grace’ for my own garden but went with the former as my guess is I’d never see ‘Grace’s’ lovely fall color as leaves tend to fall here before it gets close to cold enough to color them up. Best wishes with the garden renovations! I’ve started one of my own, also with the assistance of a spouse wielding a chainsaw.

    • Chloris says:

      I’ m not sure that we should allow our husbands out with chainsaws. Specially mine who is famous for being very clumsy.
      I am involved with another new project now and getting very excited about it.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    So many lovely things still left in your garden despite the shorter days. I hope the Pianist will still be able to play the piano once the bandages come off!

  5. germac4 says:

    I hope the Mr Clum keeps well away from the chainsaw! Lovely to have a look around your garden in autumn…still lots of autumn colour.

  6. pbmgarden says:

    November is a wonder in your garden Delightful to see the color and plans. Hope hubby is quickly recovered.

  7. sarahngima77 says:

    That garden loooks divine. Nice place to garner inspiration.

  8. Oh yes, you still have quite a bit of color! Lovely! The Acers and Spireas are particularly stunning! Your Crabapple has beautiful, large fruits! We have several Crabapples here and they attract many songbirds. Love ’em! 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I love crab apples. You get lovely blossom in spring and then fruit now. The only problem is choosing out of so many beauties. I chose Red Sentinel because it hangs on to its fruit much longer than the others.

  9. Pauline says:

    You have lots of lovely autumn colour and I think November and October are wonderful months for the garden to have a final fling. You have been working hard getting rid of your bed, I do hope the Pianist is ok after his accident, such a shame after his hard work.
    My Acer Osakazuki has now started to drop its leaves, but was a wonderful colour when at its peak, A. Villa Taranto looks to be a superb colour, must look for it to add to my collection!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Pauline. The Pianist’ s fingers are on the mend now. I love acers and have 2 or three little ones coming on nicely from seed. Osakazuki is glorious but they are all lovely.

  10. Emma Spary says:

    This arrived in the gloom of an autumn morning and lifted the spirits–I had to laugh (cruelly) at the misfortunes of your other half with the chainsaw and caught my breath at the wonderful colours and flowers in your garden. Thank you!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Emma. Autumn has been lovely this year.
      My husband is always alarming me with his accidents but I can’ t talk because I am clumsy too. But my accidents are always caused by plants catching my attention so that I ride into a ditch on my bike or fall over things because I’ m not looking where I’ m going. But then I don’ t handle chainsaws.

  11. Cathy says:

    Not bad at all Chloris! I saw that Acer Osakazuki on Gardeners’ World a couple of weeks ago and would also love one as it apparently stays quite small… Hope the Pianist’s hands recover soon, ready for the next stint with the chainsaw!

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, it is a beautiful acer. I think I shall try to keep the Pianist away from the chainsaw for a while. I can’ t stand the strain. But I am glad to get rid of that holly.

  12. Christina says:

    There is some beautiful colour in your garden Liz, the only autumn colour here is the Phlomis! and that should be spring not autumn. Poor Pianist, I’m sure you are looking after him; how awful to do so much damage in the ‘safety’ of a shop! I hope it won’t effect his playing. I remember your dislike of November which for me occurs in February.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Christina. The Pianist is playing again now and there is no lasting damage. He still can’ t play his ukele though with his finger ends wrapped up.
      November starts ok, but descends into gloom once we alter the clocks. I don’ t mind February because it gets noticably lighter and the birds start to sing. And then there are the snowdrops of course.

  13. Shrubs and trees with colourful foliage really come into their own now, as you illustrate so well here. Men we love using sharp edged power tools cause such angst, buying mine a pair of lividly orange coloured safety boots, trousers plus visored helmet, while insisting ‘Bob’ use them, seems to have put him off😉.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, early November is great but the party is coming to an end now.
      Those safety clothes sound like a good idea but I don’ t suppose I could persuade the Pianist to wear them to go to the village shop.

  14. Summer Daisy says:

    November is looking beautiful in your garden ♥

  15. Cathy says:

    Tee hee – I liked the description of the Pianist resembling one of your wrapped up tree ferns 🙂 And if he and the Golfer actually read our blogs sometime they would realise how much they get talked about and teased 😉 Your autumn colour is a delight – Grace and Villa Taranto especially. Well done for starting another Project as it is not long since you were tacking your Secret Garden – I hope it keeps you looking forward and beyond these darker months that sometime get you down. So exciting to have a new bd to plan! ps of course I still wish the Pianist a rapid return to piano playing and the inevitable stump pulling too 😉

    • Chloris says:

      I don’ t think the Pianist ever reads my blog because as you know, all things floral make him yawn. But the whole family tease him for his lifelong clumsiness. His brother is the same, they are both tall with big feet which they seem to fall over. Anyway, I don’ t think he will be pulling stumps anytime soon although his fingers are healing nicely.
      I have yet another exciting project to tide me over the gloomy months, all will be revealed soon.

      • Cathy says:

        And to think I get teased over my endless projects…you are just as bad as I am! I am wondering what your exciting project can be…? Sadly, I have no natant ideas that can be developed into a project at the moment… ps like the pianist, I could say anything about the Golfer here and he would be none the wiser

  16. rusty duck says:

    Oh dear, chainsaws and their operators are such a worry. If you find a man with a mattock and bulging muscles could you get his phone number please? His first job will be to plant the Acer Villa Taranto which has gone straight to the top of my list too.

    • Chloris says:

      I know but I think yours is quite an expert at it and not so worrying. Mine is hopeless at anything pratical which doesn’ t involve gaffa tape or leads.

  17. Julie says:

    Hello, I enjoyed catching up with your Autumnal garden, you never cease to amaze me with the variety of wonderful plants you nurture and the enthusiasm you have to develop new areas. I hope the Pianist recovers soon, that must of been a shock to the shop keeper too! We inherited a 70’s special here and it took some considerable time to hack our way through endless veteran conifers, I wonder if in 50 years time folk will look back and wonder why we garden as we do now?

    • Chloris says:

      Lovely to hear from you Julie, I have missed your beautiful wildlife posts. Yes I wonder what future generations will find to dislike in the gardens we make now. I would love to see what gardeners will be doing in 100 years from now.

  18. Bodger says:

    Great post, thank you Chloris. The Acer griseum and Chrysanthemum are a spectacular combination. I’m going out to give A. Osakazuki a good talking to, after seeing your photograph; A. aconitifolium does the autumn crimson best for me. Malus “Red Sentinel” goes on my wish list – those plump red fruits would welcome November on their own. I agree with you on the terrible invention of island beds, making the lawn pocky and the edging a nightmare. Sympathy to The Pianist. Get well soon, as there’s a lot of gardening still to be done.

    • Chloris says:

      Doesn’ t your A. osakazuki colour up? What a disappointment. Island beds and pointless wavy edges are my pet garden hates. Well two of them, I seem to have rather a lot.
      The Pianist’ s fingers are nearly healed thank you. But he probably won’ t be venturing into the garden for a while. He doesn’ t believe in outside and loathes any sort of garden work. Although he does do the lawn with a ride- on mower. But only with a martyred air and much muttering and cursing.

  19. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures, especially the last one.
    You’ve certainly been busy and have plenty to look forward to next year. xx

  20. Looks like there are fires all round your garden! Acer Osakazuki goes such a glace-cherry red. It’s marvellous. Well done with removing your final island bed. I was just thinking the other day that I am not sure why I am living with our predecessor’s planting along the front garden border. I might need to borrow The Pianist once he is better (hope that is soon).

    • Chloris says:

      It’ s funny, it took me ages to realise that I don’t have to live with someone else’ s planting ideas. The Pianist wouldn’ t be much use to you. He only ventures into the garden after a great deal of nagging and entreaty. Even then he grumbles and complains the whole time. He doesn’ t do gardens.

  21. How fabulous your garden is looking Chloris. I guess you love a challenge and I look forward to reading about your new area.

  22. Anna says:

    Oh I hope that The Pianist heals quickly Chloris and that he can soon return to his gardening assistant duties. Your November garden positively glows. I like the ‘Arabian Night’ impostor. I will be most interested to hear how you get on with your new malus ‘Red Sentinnel’. My tree fruited for the first time last autumn but the fruits did not live up to their catalogue description in terms of longevity.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Anna, the Pianist’ s fingers are healing nicely. That is disappointing about your malus. I bought this because I always admire one in a garden near here which looks good all winter long.

  23. I suppose every month has its virtues, and your garden in November is very virtuous! Lots of lovelies as usual. The toad lilies seem to have gone on forever this year. The wrapped tree ferns look very architectural as well as cosy. 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Early November is lovely but it does start to get gloomy ss the month goes on. But never mind because in the greenhouse I have lots of nerines cheering me up. I shall be writing a nerine post soon.

  24. Annette says:

    Oh dear, hope the pianist is feeling better after his mishap. I’m always nervous when Monsieur climbs the tree with his chainsaw. I have to remove yet another tree in the orchard. It’s always a tough choice but no point in being sentimental when things will be greatly improved afterwards. Stunning autumn colours in your garden. I’ve a Forsythia too which I adore because of its weeping shape and yellow and pink autumn colour. Spirea which are often rather boring during the year can be so pretty too at this time of year. Soft Carress is a slow grower for a Mahonia but here it’s covered in blossom at the moment, so worth being patient. Happy autumn days to you both and speedy recovery 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Hello Annette, I hope you are enjoying autumn in your part of the world. Yes trees have to go sometimes because a garden can’ t stand still. Like yours, my orchard has had to lose some fruit trees to make way for other treasures.

  25. homeslip says:

    Oh no, I know how important hands are to a pianist – hope he’s healing quickly. Your garden is looking absolutely wonderful Chloris. That is the joy of gardening, always something to plan and look forward to. And I am going to seek out a new A. Osakazuki. My husband gave me one for our first wedding anniversary. After about 20 years in a pot I planted it in the garden in the space left when I removed a snow-damaged Garrya and within a year it was dead. Sadly its roots hadn’t managed to untwirl from pot-bound captivity.

  26. Chloris says:

    The Pianist is recovering nicely thanks Sarah. I love acers and would like lots more. Osakazuki is superb in autumn so it is worth seeking out another.

  27. Lavinia Ross says:

    There is still so much color and beauty in November’s garden! My favorites are the dahlia and crocus.

  28. I really enjoyed this post. You are really taking charge of the garden! As someone who once knocked out one of his own teeth with a pair of plyers, I stay far away from chainsaws. As for the ghost, did it speak to you? Was there the sound of dragging chains?

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