The last days of November are mostly full of rain and strong winds that beat at the walls and whistle round the windows, while the temperatures hover in the low teens during these short days, dropping to a minimum of 5°C on the coldest night so far. The weekend was mainly dry and sunny though, and yesterday morning started still and bright, enticing me into the garden to snatch these photographs: a few hours later the scene had changed completely as the wind had whipped up, once more hurling rain at the windows.
The garden is quieter as November fades out, the newly sown grass lush and green, blending seamlessly into the surviving lawn beyond. Little splashes of colour are dotted around the borders, which stand emptier now as most of the leaves have fled and the young plants are finally beginning to die back for their first winter. A few plants remain undaunted in the continuing mild weather though.
The last of the Echinacea purpurea to be planted out mid-summer from seed sown in the spring has been nurturing one lone flower which has now unfurled its petals to stand defiantly in the border, lashed by the wind’s tongue alongside the darkened heads of Verbena bonariensis.
Further down this border, the cluster of architectural buds on the cardoon has also finally revealed its first bloom, the lovely rubbery petals pushing skywards to bask in the low winter sun.
Across the garden, I have continued to pull out the cosmos as each plant dwindles to a few smaller flowers, exposing the young bones of this bed. I found several self-sown cosmos seedlings around this bed (and transplanted one from the middle of the lawn) but given their half-hardy nature, they are unlikely to survive the winter in situ, though perhaps I could pot them up and overwinter them in the greenhouse for a headstart next year?
All the wild primroses along the front of this border are blooming, and a lone white daisy has appeared on the leucanthemum which I chopped down at the end of September when the last flowers faded – the extended mild weather has produced an extreme ‘Chelsea-chop’ effect here. The vivid blue of the eryngium has subsided into a pale lavender haze at the front of the border now, and the rudbeckia behind hold on to their last blazes of sunshine.
Down in the kitchen garden, the two bottom beds remain mostly empty: the last of the chard and beetroot stand at the front, while the end bed is host to two double rows of autumn sown broad beans, about half of which have come up, while the remainder appear to have been munched down to a stalk or have failed to germinate at all. Alongside the neighbouring row of hardneck garlic ‘Sprint’, which can be seen marching away already, I have just added a row of softneck garlic ‘Solent Wight’, the cloves pushed gently into holes and covered over, hopefully to emerge as the colder weather arrives.
November has not seen many changes in the garden; we have been outside as time and weather permitted, mostly pulling out fading annuals, weeding the ornamental and edible borders front and back – how fast the weeds continue to grow! – and potting on odds and ends, or heaving deliveries of logs around between the woodstores, but most of our attentions have been focused indoors in another push before the festive season arrives.
Besides the unglamorous plumbing and electrical work, grouting and cleaning of slate floor tiles, painting the bare plaster walls of the final room to be completed and many other bits and pieces, we have constructed and painted bespoke bookshelves in the corner of the lounge between the under-stairs cupboard and the entrance to our kitchen. After much painstaking work cutting the materials, building the shelves, making them fit the undulating walls and painting them with several coats of underpaint and gloss, they are now completed and in a week or so when the paint has settled, I am looking forward to finally unpacking all our books and completing our ‘library’ corner.
There are only a few more construction tasks remaining which we will tackle this year, soon we can tuck the tools and materials away, the eternal dust will settle and be mopped into submission and we can enjoy a few weeks respite before it all starts again in the New Year.
Thanks to the Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month View.