Sunday, November 15, 2009

November GBBD: End of the Season?

Every Midwesterner knows that November can be an unpredictable month. Often gloomy with gray, wet days that never end, this is one month I've often wished could be wiped off the calendar. Last year, however, was an exception. I remember planting bulbs, warmed enough by the sun that there was no need for a jacket, all the way till Thanksgiving. This year November has been a welcome surprise and relief after an unusually wet and dreary October. Although we have had frosty mornings, the sun usually brings the temperature up to a comfortable warmth. For example, yesterday I sat through yet another disappointing Illinois football game wearing only a sweatshirt and jeans.

The cold of October has brought the garden nearly to an end. Yet there are a few things still to enjoy for this November Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day:

There are the usual suspects for this late in the season, like the fall pansies sitting on the steps.

Or the potted mum carelessly planted in a container to replace the dying zinnias and heliotrope.

Or the lavender mum in the shade garden partially obscured by the dried feathery plumes of the heuchera.

More typical scenes in my garden, though, are like this one. Some of the Victoria Blue salvias are still showing some signs of their vibrant purple of early autumn, but most are fading to a silvery hue for the winter.

The hydrangeas are wilting and turning brown, but "Let's Dance in the Moonlight" is determined to give one last colorful hurrah before ending its season. I know you're probably tired of me showing yet another photo of this plant, but this fall I have been enthralled by the hydrangeas that have been almost as colorful in their final days as they were in their summer prime.

Looking for something--anything at all--still blooming in the shade garden one morning, I was sad to see that the Brunnera "Jack Frost" had finally succumbed to the frost. Or so I thought . . .

The next day, after a few hours of warm sunlight, I was surprised to see a full recovery! "Jack" is typical of what it is still blooming in my garden--what I call the "hangers-on."

Still hanging in there, protected on my back porch, is the Desert Rose begonia. This is one of the few plants that will be taken in the house for the winter--I've never had a begonia do so well for me as this one.

Another hanger-on is the "Homestead" verbena. It seems to actually enjoy the cooler weather, but here in zone 5 it is an annual so its time is limited.

The lamium, specific name now forgotten, is another plant unfazed by cool temperatures and is still setting blooms. If covered with leaves, it wil usually stay green all winter.

A few stray petunia blooms are also hanging in there, along with the helichrysum. Someone asked me about this plant on a previous post. It often goes by other names, such as licorice plant or mouse ears, and it is one of my favorite accent plants in containers.

Another tough plant is the sweet alyssum. I think all of these re-seeded from last year. They were getting rather leggy this summer so I gave them a "haircut," which gave them a new burst of energy for this fall.

There are a few surprises for this time of year, though. This is the first year I have planted lemon verbena, purchased early in the season from the local Herb Society's plant sale, and I don't think I've ever featured it here before. According to information on the Missouri Botanical Garden website, lemon verbena, Aloysia triphylla, reaches a height of 2-4 feet. Not to brag, but my plant is at least 5 feet tall! (Wish I'd moved that trampoline out of the background, though.)

However, the website also mentions that it has showy white flowers from June to September, but mine never bloomed. I'm not too disappointed, though, because this plant has done so well otherwise and provided much more than blooms. Every time I was in the Butterfly Garden I couldn't resist pulling off a leaf or two and taking in its heady lemony scent. While it can be used in making teas or desserts, I have only dried the leaves in hopes of making some potpourri. Unfortunately, while lemon verbena is a perennial in zones 8-10, it won't survive in my zone 5 garden. But I am going to attempt to root a cutting, and if that fails, I'll be back at the plant sale in the spring for a replacement.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the new lush greenery and pink blooms of the Achillea, or yarrow. This is a tough plant that is one of the first to bloom in the spring and one of the last in the fall.

But I was surprised to see these little violas blooming in the pot of now-spent dianthus. Did I plant these in here last spring and they've come to life again? Or did I throw out the dead spring blooms in this catch-all pot? Sometimes there are advantages to being forgetful.

Yes, the season is winding down, and for the next few months, I'll have to use some ingenuity to come up with a Bloom Day post at all. I'll enjoy the garden for as long as it lasts, admiring the seedheads of the daisy "Becky" and discovering right next to these dried up blooms . . .

A brand new "Becky" bloom!

You may have noticed a common theme throughout this post--throughout my flowerbeds are leaves, leaves, and more leaves.

Sometimes, though, it pays to pull back a few of those leaves to discover a final surprise underneath--a few primroses are blooming again! This can only mean one thing--only a few more months until spring!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is the brainchild of the always entertaining and energetic Carol of May Dreams Gardens. For more Bloom Day posts from around the world, be sure to visit her.


  1. You have quite a few sprinkles of color here and there Rose. Happy GBBD.

  2. Rose girl !! I was just commenting on lemon verbena and how wonderful it smells !! comparing it to the different sages and pineapple sage especially .
    I had no idea the lemon verbena would grow that tall .. I had mine in a pot on the deck ..just so I could squeeze the leaves once in a while to smell that awesome scent !
    I love the before and after pictures of "Jack" isn't he amazing ? I plan to have many more of him for next year !
    You have so many great flowering plants so late in the season .. it has been warm here too .. an unusual November for sure !!
    Soon it will be Thanksgiving for you guys and the Christmas Crazies will start .. make sure to take your vitamins girl !!
    Joy : )

  3. Hi Rose, you have more blooming still than this Midwesterner. Now you must imagine my holding a buckthorn aggressively and saying "Take back what you said about November!!!" It may be true, but it's my bday month and I've been trying very hard to love it, LOL! Actually, we've had a lot of sun and it's been a great month so far. :)

  4. I'm sorry about your Illini losing yesterday, my Boilers lost, too, so no bowl game for us!

    But out in your garden, you still have a lot of good bloom! They may be "hangers on" from another season, but they are pretty none-the-less.

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day!

  5. SO much blooming Rose! I almost thought your begonia was a camellia it looks so similar. And congrats on your lemon verbena! 5 feet is tall. I have it in my garden and I can tell you it has never bloomed or gotten that tall. Yours might winter over if you mulch it. Put a bag of potting soil or compost on top once it has gone by and you cut it back. It's slow to come back but is pretty hardy.

  6. Hi Rose! It's amazing to see fresh, perfect daisy bloom this time of the year, isn't it? I have some blooms on my daisises too, and they create such a contrast with other autumn blooms and autumn foliage.

  7. Wow Rose - lots of blooms still hanging on in your garden. That first pansy is gorgeous!

    Happy Bloom Day!

  8. Morning Rose, finally getting around to visit folks this morning. We even have the sun shining!!
    This has been a funny fall for blooms hasn't it? I am impressed with the sweet allysum in my yard..though I will have to check it now. Lots of blooms all summer!

  9. I love your lavender mum, it's beautiful.

  10. What a lot of lovely colours you still have, rose.

  11. I love the daisy with its crumpled petals! I've never had verbena bloom for me, either. I think we don't have the long, hot summer it needs. My Brunnera are behaving in a similar fashion. They stay late and come up early — what more could one ask.

  12. I am really intrigued by the lemon verbena. I may have to add that to the herb garden next year. Happy Bloom Day!

  13. Well Rose....I am with you as far as the hydrangeas are concerned. Mine did not flower well this year but the autumn colour has been spectacular. In fact the best I can remember.....

    Lemon Verbena, what dizzy heights it reached. Perhaps all it's energy went into height and it had nothing left to give as far as blooms were concerned.....

    We are mid November, time passes quickly. I know the winter can be cold and grey....but let us enjoy the time we are in....enjoy the moment and not wish our precious time away......winter has much to offer. A time to think about our gardens, sit down in the warm, reading garden books and making plans for the changes we wish to make.

    Winter is also the only time we see the wonderful structures of the trees.......

  14. Lisa, Yes, I've been surprised by the blooms remaining.

    Joy, The lemon verbena and pineapple sage are new to me this year--both are definite keepers! Vitamins, yes, I need vitamins...

    Monica, I'm not complaining about November this year! A great month for your birthday--hope it's a good one!

    Carol, So sorry about your Boilers. Oh well, basketball season is starting--looking forward to a good game with you:)

    Tina, Thanks for the tip on keeping the verbena; I will definitely add some mulch and see if it comes back.

    Tatyana, The daisy bloom was quite a surprise to me; it's in an exposed area, so I thought it had been zapped by the frost.

    Linda, Thanks; the pansies are so reliable in the cool weather, aren't they?

    Janet, So glad the sun is shining for you; most importantly, that means it's not raining there!

    Sweet Bay, the mum is one I planted from a potted mum purchase one fall. It's turned out to be quite hardy.

    Liz, I'm enjoying every little bloom for as long as they last.

    Linda, I think you're right--the verbena probably needs some real heat, but I like it even without blooms. I've fallen in love with Brunnera!

    Rose, The lemon verbena would fit in perfectly with your garden and it's definitely low-maintenance--try it!

    Cheryl, I've enjoyed the hydrangea foliage as much as the blooms this year. The verbena is great even without blooms. As for winter, I actually look forward to a little rest from the garden. It's a good time for renewal and planning changes and additions for next year.

  15. How can I pick favourite photos? Well OK then...... I love pansies and the photo of the little white rabbit and the verbena.....
    Better stop else I will have to name them all!

    Nuts in May

  16. Hi;
    Found you through Carol's blog. Fun stuff. I hope you're right! I hope the little primrose flowers means spring is on it's way. :))

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed my wander through your garden, Rose. It is lovely to see colour still.

    We have had extremely heavy rain and high winds in the last few days. Many places have experienced floods...we are lucky, we live on a hill so no flooding but of course the winds do batter us rather.

    I will never tire of you mentioning 'Let's Dance in the Moonlight' but that is because I love the name, it is absolutely delightful!

    I'm so glad your Brunnera survived but of course with a name like 'Jack Frost' he had to really ;)

  18. I've got to try that Lemon Verbena in the herb garden; I could, perhaps, winter a bit over in the sunporch. I use a lot of the licorice plant in the planters, also. That and potato vines of all colors.

  19. I'll have to try the lemon verbena!

    You asked about my clematis, I think it is a "Nellie Moser". It only had a few blooms this summer, so I was very surprised by this round of blooms. I just planted it last year, so hopefully next year it will bloom more.

  20. Nice blooms - I like your "letter" blogs - gloria

  21. You have tons of pretty blooms still going on in your garden this month! Glad that your Brunera bounced back from the frost. I planted two of them this spring and I'm looking forward to them getting bigger and better. Thanks for your concern about the storm that hit our area. I was lucky compared to Les & Janet. Just a mess of leaves, twigs etc... to rake up. :)

  22. Always love visiting you :) There is an award at mine for you

  23. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love that Hydrangea, no wonder you love it too! I'll have to search it out next year.

  24. Ah - you have pansies! And begonias!! Mine are long gone. I do still have that purple petunia, like yours. And the mums. Yours are so pretty!

    Our November has been much like yours and I'm pleasantly surprised. But after our wet October, I was ready for a nicer November.

    Have a good week.

  25. Rose, love the hydrangea! I am going to have to get one(or more)next spring. The plants we bought at the palnt sale this spring have been wonderful haven't they. We must go again and see what other delights we can find.

    For an 'end of season' GBBD post, you really have a lot of pretties. Well done you and them for showing off this late. I especially like the surprise prim rose. A hint of spring to come. :)

  26. Rose, I'd be thrilled to have all those blooms in my garden in November. Nov and March....least favorite months. This year though Nov has been pleasant and I planted bulbs last Friday.

    There can never be too many photos of "Let's Dance in the Moonlight".

  27. if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at

  28. Rose there is still a variety of color in your November garden!I was going to show some of my garden for GBBD but just don't have the energy to get right down to take the photos.
    I thank you for your continued support and encouragement as I walk my healing journey.blessings aNNa xo

  29. You still have quite a bit blooming altho I'm sure you have to look closely to find it. I thought the begonia was a camellia too. It's lovely.

  30. Rose, I have lemon verbena and it gets very tall too. But it always flops over. Maybe mine is getting just a tad too much shade? And I wouldn't say it gets very showy flowers. In fact, they're quite small, little white things, barely visible really. But I do love the leaves!

  31. Good show for November. I love Hydrangeas at that stage where the flowerheads color up again like a second blooming and the foliage turns that fantastic burgundy.

  32. Your gardens are still so full of blooms!
    All I have are marigolds....

  33. Hi Rose, it's been a beautiful fall. I do so love 'Becky' daisies. They bloom and bloom, but mine have stopped. Your flowers look great. Can't believe it's November. Happy bloom day.~~Dee

  34. Maggie May, at this time of year my favorite is anything that blooms:)

    Kate, this is only the second year for the primroses, and I had no idea they would re-bloom.

    Shy Songbird, We have had non-stop rain, too, for the past few days. November is starting to look pretty gloomy. I often buy plants just because I love their names!

    Granny Fran, Definitely try the lemon verbena! It would smell heavenly inside on a porch.

    Robin, I realized that my spring bloomer is like yours, but my fall bloomer is different, more lavender. I still haven't figured it out.

    Gloria, Thanks for visiting!

    Racquel, Glad to hear you didn't have much damage from the storms. The brunnera is one of my best purchases this spring; I'd love to add a few more.

    Suburbia, Thank you so much! I'll get around to adding it a little later.

    Susie, "Let's Dance" was an end-of-the year bargain last year. I'd love to find a few more.

    Wendy, the weather has turned--all rain! November is turning into its usual gloomy self:(

  35. Beckie, I definitely want to go to the plant sale again next spring. I agree the plants we bought have done so well--hope I can find another pineapple sage there again.

    Donna, My vote goes to November and February:) Glad you enjoy "Let's Dance."

    Peter, Thanks for the link.

    Anna, Thanks so much for taking the time to visit me; I hope this new treatment will be successful.

    Marnie, You're absolutely right--you really have to LOOK for the blooms right now.

    Jean, Good to know that the blooms aren't that showy, but I agree it's worth it without blooms.

    MMD, The hydrangeas have been exceptional this fall.

    Sherry, I was surprised to find anything still blooming. Now all this rain may mean an end to any blooms.

    Dee, The "Becky" is a stalwart. I was very surprised to see one last new bloom, though.

  36. The last remnants are always bittersweet aren't they? We will have to live vicariously through the more Southern garden blogs.

  37. The faded hydrangea and drying salvia Victoria are still beautiful, Rose - and I'd try to save the begonia, too. But my favorite was the bounced-back Brunnera!

    Happy GBBD

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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