Number one for November has to be the chrysanthemum. I don’t grow the big mop heads. They are beautiful but they always remind me of over-primped, botoxed and made-up ladies who spend too much time at the hairdressers. Very high maintenance; the ladies and the chrysanthemums. I prefer the daisy and small double chrysanthemums which come in such pretty colours.
Chrysanthemums start blooming in October but I avert my eyes and refuse to acknowlege them until November. I do the same thing with bulbs which are showing their noses. These have to wait until after Christmas to be gloated over. In the darkest months horticultural pleasures are scarce and have to be spread out and not enjoyed all at once. There are enough floral treats in October but after the first November frosts then chrysanthemums are the stars for me.
I will start with my favourite ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’ which has double flowers with red petals burnished with gold.
And here are a few more. ‘Cottage Lemon’ is quite rare and on the red list. ‘Mrs. Jessie Cooper’ is a particularly vibrant pink and I love the double peachey flowers of ‘Picasso’
Number two on my list is this beautiful Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ which is rarely out of bloom. It is at is best in November and throughout the winter unless the weather is particularly awful. It smells divine and wafts its fragrance round the garden. It is not considered to be completely hardy but mine has lived outside for several years. Its name is a bit of a mouthful but it is a gorgeous plant. If you remember that coronilla means crown you will see it makes sense; it has crown-shaped umbels of lemon-coloured flowers. It has been given various English names such as ‘Crown Vetch’ or ‘Scorpion Vetch’, but I have no truck with made up names for plants with perfectly good, if a little long, Latin names. Coronilla is a member of the pea family; leguminosae. I always remember this by thinking of it as: ‘Le’ go mi nosey’.
My third plant is one that is new to me this year. Bidens heterophylla ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’. I have grown the pretty little annual bidens for years, but this is a late-flowering and very tall perennial. I don’t know if they usually flower so late but mine was very late to open its flowers and it is a very welcome sight on a November day. I can never resist daisy flowers and this has lemon daisy flowers tipped with white.
My number four is the lovely Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ which blooms throughout the winter months. And it is a very welcome sight too with its maroon freckles.
There are still some roses blooming away but I have chosen one that blooms for about eight weeks in the early summer and then after a little rest will bloom right into the winter. I love single roses and this one is an absolute beauty; the flowers start off coppery apricot and finish pink. It is Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’. It is a china rose and so needs a sheltered spot. In fact it used to be called Rosa chinensis, I’m not quite sure when the name was changed.
Another China rose which seems to bloom all year round with just the odd break is Rosa chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’. The flowers look like flights of red butterflies.
I know a lot of people don’t like mahonias and I hate the creeping one which gets all over my garden and is so difficult to eradicate and seeds everywhere. But I like the spiky, evergreen foliage of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’. ‘Charity’ is getting over here but ‘Winter Sun’ is still looking good. These winter flowering mahonias smell faintly of Lily of the Valley. But for a strongly scented one the late winter/ early spring flowering Mahonia japonica is the one to go for. My only complaint about these mahonias is that I have too many of them. The previous owner here seemed to be mad about them, along with the evil, wet dog -smelling Viburnum tinus. The other problem is that mahonias can grow very tall and gawky, with flowers so high up that only the birds get to appreciate them. But they are easy to chop down to a knobbly bit in spring.
This month’s snowdrop is the dear little November- flowering Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’.
I have several different cyclamen and some of them live in pots in the greenhouse. But outside just as Cyclamen hederifolium starts to go over, the winter flowering Cyclamen coum takes over. This one is a little early but very welcome.
I am really keen to focus each month on flowers which are blooming in the proper season. November is a bit tricky though and many of the flowers out now are hangers on from summer or early winter ones. I have a foxglove in bloom and also a hellebore. I have mentioned my lovely Passion Flower , Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’ before. It is still blooming away.
Silly Cow’ is indeed silly blooming so late when the frosts are around but the delicate-looking Iris unguicularis is quite safe and will bloom all winter long. I like to pick it in bud and watch it unfurl in the warmth of the house.
So there are my top ten November bloomers. Please join me and show us what you are enjoying in the garden in November and if flowers are getting a bit thin on the ground outside, then show us just one or two. Or maybe you have some fabulous blooms in the house or conservatory to share.