Admittedly gardening isn’t much on the minds of temperate-climate gardeners these days, except in dreams. November, along with its sinking temperatures, brisk winds, and societal reminders of early winter holidays, closes the door on the season past with a firm slam shut.
But the landscape still lives in spite of nightly frosts. Without adulation and with only tacit recognition, these staples of the aesthetic go on blooming and beaming in colors royal for the season. After a walk around the Iowa State University campus today, here are a few plants, even if a little ordinary, that deserve a final ovation for their November encore.
Hamamelis virginiana–Our native witch hazel blooms through Thanksgiving, making it and its relatives the harbingers of winter and spring. In a plant-driven landscape, no small token of floral charm is taken for granted, particularly in November!
Hydrangea quercifolia–Stately and richly robed in burgundy color, the oakleaf hydrangeas on the south side of Carver Hall form a staple hedge.
Larix decidua–Shedding its seasonal coat, the larch glows in straw tones. I love the soft yet wiry texture of larches, hanging in plant-esque dreadlocks from tall-formed trees.
Platanus occidentalis–The mottled and peeling bark of sycamores always caught my eye as a kid. I stopped to take this photo after slogging through waves of head-sized sycamore leaves underfoot.
Rosa rugosa–Rose hips never go unnoticed, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors running through its foliage. Glowing even as the afternoon light dimmed, the foliage showed no signs of giving in to frost or the threat of snow.
Spiraea x bumalda ‘Gold Flame’–A general blight on the landscape in my opinion, but how terrific this one was in fall color! Saturated!
Viburnum dentatum–Let’s not forget fruit on this trip. Black-and-blue beads sparkle against yellow fall color, a combination that the birds won’t sully for a little while yet.
Yellow-fruited crabapple–Who needs Christmas lights after Thanksgiving when you have sparkling pomes dripping from arching branches?
I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote in my journal last month:Winds blowing, cold air chilling October autumn nights.
Winds blowing, cold air chilling The last of autumn falls on. 10/26/10