Below are our 12 favourite plants from the garden in early November 2016. Of all the months, November is probably the trickiest for us to have great interest within the garden. It’s increasingly a time when flowering plants are very few and far between, and highly valued. Plus any autumnal leaf colour begins to decline as leaves are lost in autumnal winds. Evergreens, and tree/shrub form come to the fore…
1: Pinus wallichiana. Another tree I grew from pre germinated seed in the late 1990’s. It languished in a small pot for ages before I got round to planting it out, but is now starting to show its grace – smooth grey bark, but the main feature being fabulous long, soft blue green needles. I do hope that we can manage to keep it upright inform and that it doesn’t tend to be blown over by our prevailing south westerlies. Taking lower branches off its easterly aspect will be necessary in the next few years, I think.
2: Acer griseum. This medium sized, slow growing Acer, has 2 valuable features. Firstly dark, shaggy cinnamon coloured bark, that sometimes seems to glow in flame like strips if caught by low winter sun, but also attractively shaped small leaves which reliably turn red quite late in the season, after many other Acers have already lost their leaves. They look fabulous on the tree, and retain their bright red colour on the ground for a few days.
3: Parrotia persica. The Persian Ironwood tree is another mid to late season valuable autumn leaf colour tree. Over the years we’ve seen many examples with leaf colours in the red/orange/yellow range, often at the same time. Our example seems to tend towards yellow, but it does have the merit of leaf colour change over quite a long time frame, peaking in early to mid November. It also has interesting though insignificant spidery red flowers beginning to open in mid December…
4: Acer micranthum. Like a couple of other Acers we grow (the earlier colouring A. aconitifolium, and A. griseum, above), this reliably produces rich red autumn leaf colour changes from late October, into mid November. One of our later plantings, it’s still a small tree, but keeps the interesting autumn colour going as the white Saxigrage fortunei rubrifolia flowers begin to fade.
5: Skimmia japonica “Redruth” This Skimmia really has year round interest, since for a lot of the year, it carries flower buds and berries simultaneously. The birds don’t seem to eat the berries, which persist for ages. Mid green leaves and a compact form make for a very easy to manage shrub in our acid woodland conditions, growing beneath mature European Larch trees.
6: Fagus sylvatica “Dawyk” A narrow columnar upright cultivar of Beech, which provides classic rich gold and then brown leaf colour, as the leaves dry in late autumn… and a handy frame for one of our rambling roses ( below) to scramble through. By chance the combination of beech colour leaf change harmonises with the foliage of the rose, which is of the glossiest mid green, until quite late in December.
7:Rosa “Alberic Barbier”. This is a cutting from our original Alberic Berbier, which of all our ramblers has the longest potential flowering season, often keeping going into late November. The flowers are a slightly untidy double form, but change from rich cream to more of a white colour as they open. I really like the form of it, as it sends out pendulous stems from the leaders which we’ve tried to gradually weave around the upright form of the Dawyk’s Beech.I’ve also realised that this pendulous near evergreen rose canopy provides a brilliant micro-climate avoiding the worst frosts and on a south facing sunny slope, so an ideal spot to overwinter some of our potted plants.
8:Skimmia japonica “Rubella”. One of our favourite all season Skimmias. Being a male form, one never gets berries on it, but it is a perfect partner for the other female forms we grow, and has attractive leaf colour through much of the year. Around November the flower buds, which won’t open until spring, begin to develop and add interest to the plant through the winter.
9: Leucothoe keiskei ‘Royal Ruby’. We’ve a few of these shrubs in the copse which have taken a while to get going, but provide really good evergreen interest through the winter, and then pendulous arching flower stems in spring.
10: Acer palmatum “Scolopendrifolium”. A fairly fast growing form of A. plamatum, with attractively finely cut leaves which turn an interesting blend of yellow gold in autumn, a little later than most of the Acers.
11: Drimys winteri . We do hope that this striking evergreen, narrowly columnar tree survives. Hailing from the temperate coastal forests of Argentina and Chile, it should be hardy with us, but has been cut back twice in severe winters, and now recovered to create its current multi-stemmed form, also being afforded a bit more protection by surrounding young Oaks. Eventually if it does mature, we might even get some flowers from it. For now in late November it provides elegant mid green, large leaves, with striking pink/red stems
12: Larix decidua syn.europea. European Larch. There are many stands of European Larch around us, in forestry plantations, and a lot of these are having to be felled, because of Phytopthera infections. We’re fortunate to have some quite mature trees, up to 60 feet tall, which form the upper storey cover as the background planting for our lower copse. Really valuable as deciduous conifers, with quite open foliage in the summer, allowing under plantings to survive Every year a few seedlings appear, and they’re such a reliable late season leaf colour change tree, with the needles turning from green, to wonderful yellows, then gold before falling. Also a fantastic wood for kindling, and reviving fires.
Thanks for reading.