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November not a bad month

November not a bad month

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 8:00 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams

Pity the people of “merrye olde England,” which sometimes isn’t so merrye.
In Joseph Addison’s part of the world, hung with glorious gardens during the zenith of the year, November finds the gray (“grey” there) curtain of winter already plunging down to the boards.
Oh to be in England in July, when we’re burnt to ashes and they are enjoying a “summer afternoon, the most beautiful words in the English language.”
I’ve been there then, and the sage observer who uttered those words wasn’t kidding.
On an Independence Day some years ago, we were fortunate to experience a mere 70 degrees in London while, back home, you unfortunates were being roasted alive.
On the other hand, lest we forget and get into the same notion of drowning or hanging ourselves, our Novembers are, for the most part, among the most pleasant times, weatherwise, of all the year.
Days are generally crisp enough for bulb planting or dealing with leaves, and if our gardens are properly furnished, we still can experience considerable autumn flower bloom.
Consider the Korean type chrysanthemums. I’ve extolled them before, so won’t belabor the subject.
Suffice it to say, if you don’t have any of them, get some. Just Google up “Korean chrysanthemums” on the Internet if you can’t find them locally, which will probably be the case.
These produce flowers later than the cushions sold by the millions, and those flowers are parented by a looser, more informal, plant. They have their place in the sun in late October and November. They are fully winter hardy, too.
There are a few asters, too, that carry on into early November. Among the most successful, in my experience, are varieties of the native Aster oblongifolius. The Latin monicker is easy to translate: oblong leaves. Asters provide the blue tones that mums cannot.
Occasionally in driving rural areas, one will chance upon a field of goldenrod in full bloom as late as November.
They normally flower in August and September, but sometimes are mowed down in, say, July or early August. They then re-sprout at their bases and produce those late heads of bloom, a serendipitous occurrence indeed.
Goldenrod can make a fine addition to any flower bed or border, but most wild types are too invasive for moving into captivity.
Instead, get the commercial variety Fireworks, which, though aggressive, isn’t too difficult to control.
Leaf-change season is considered to peak in October. It does, in East Tennessee at higher elevations, but in our neck of the woods it can be as late as November.
In fact, taking the years on average, most of the time it is the first week in November before the peak color occurs.
This year it was sullied somewhat by continuous north winds for days on end, but, even so, we’re still enjoying a lot of it.
Some of the flamboyant maples are going over, it is true, but the oaks and some others are having their say as we speak.
It is not until late November, or even early December, until all the leaves are down.
I have duck hunted many days in early December when the willow oaks and pin oaks in Springville bottom were still almost fully clothed with yellow leafage.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is the garden writer for The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Mondays at (731) 642-1162.

Published in The Messenger 11.13.12