End of Month View – November 2011

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.

Looking east, end of month viewThe 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.

Echinacea purpureaThe 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.

Cardoon in bloom, end of November

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?

South border, end of month view

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.

Empty kitchen garden

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.

Cat guarding autumn-sown garlic

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.

Constructing 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.


14 thoughts on “End of Month View – November 2011

  1. Sara your garden has come on so much since I first found your blog at the beggining of the year, the shelves inside look good too, it is nice to finally unpack things long ago put in boxes, sometimes there are nice surprises of things forgotten, Frances

    • Thanks, Frances. I was looking back at pictures from last winter, and I’m so pleased with our progress – will have to post some before-and-afters one of these days. We have lots of new storage space and those bookshelves now, so can finally unpack some of our patient boxes. Books are one of my favourite vices, will feel so good to have them out where they belong once more.

    • Thanks, Mark. I must confess I primarily sowed these for their architectural silver leaves and huge purple blooms, but had their edibility in mind too. Nothing is purely for ornament… 😉 One of these days I will endeavour to rugby tackle one and wrestle with the giant spiky stems in the kitchen – by all accounts not an easy task. Would be so much easier if you ate the buds on these like globe artichokes…

  2. Hi,
    So you’ve had a lot of rain? We had our first real rain in so long I cannot remember… We did have a lot of misty days though earlier in the month and at the end of october which would often leave everything damp. Last night the rain rolled in so quickly that it wasn’t even 3pm and I considered turning the lights on because it got so black suddenly. Then within second of thinking that the rain started and it was so heavy and fierce I wasn’t sure if it was actually hail because it seemed to be making very sharp cracking noises against the windows. It was crazy!

    Anyway, today’s been a bit miserable, but no rain. And still no real frosts yet this year… So I think our last blooms will still be hanging on in for a little longer.
    I’d try over wintering the cosmos seedlings – no harm in trying, is there? Mine never seem to self seed, and I haven’t yet pulled mine out… Leaving them a little longer so I can pretend it’s still summer 🙂

    • We’ve had a bit of rain these past few days with dry spells in between, sometimes misty, sometimes sunny. Enough rain through the month not to be a novelty, but the clay underfoot hasn’t become swamp yet. Suspect your rain yesterday reached us a few hours earlier, at one point early in the afternoon the noise of rain on the windows was incredible, it soon subsided though. And today has been dry and mostly sunny after a drizzly start pre-dawn.
      The cosmos are wonderfully resilient aren’t they – I never expected them to last this late.

  3. Ah – primroses with you, too – I wonder if there’ll be any left to flower in spring?

    (Your new grass looks very impressive – and I really, really like the model for scale in the garlic pic… ho ho…)

    • Yes poor things, I hope we still have flowers in the spring, I love their cheerful faces.
      Heh, thanks. It has turned out to be a perfect autumn for new grass – whew! – and Xander was doing a good job of guarding the garlic against, erm … voles? For a few minutes at least.

    • Thanks Janet, we have been rather lucky with the mild weather giving the grass such a headstart. I’m impatient to fill those shelves… though I do hope there is a little space left after we’ve unpacked all the books, surely room for a few more? 🙂

    • Ah yes the dust. Our live-in companion for the greater part of two years and more! Thought we had it finally licked this time last year when almost everything was plastered and painted and sealed as we downed our tools, and it’s only gone and snuck back in this month with the piles of woodwork. Fortunately the weather let us get away with doing most of the cutting outside this past month or two, so it’s been a bit more of a gentle invasion. Have you much work to do on your new-ish gaff?
      If it’s any consolation, the shelves have definitely been a labour of love. My husband swears that next time we’re sticking to pre-made ones from our friendly Swedish store…:)

  4. Hehe. Yep, our shelves are IKEA! (See not afraid to call it by it’s name)! Still quite a lot to do in our place but mostly just painting. Phew! By the way I had an email stating you’d left a comment on my blog this am but it’s not there! Did you delete it in error? Curious….

    • Heh. Glad you’re licking your place into shape. Hmm, I did indeed leave a comment, seems to have vanished now. Will try to recreate it, most strange indeed. Mind you, leaving comments on Blogger blogs often seems to be a minefield, but I did see it go up when I’d finished jumping through hoops. Curiouser and curiouser…

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