If I had to rank the months in my Wisconsin garden, generally November would be toward the bottom of the list. But sometimes I'm bowled over when I set low expectations.
For example, the sun glinting through the layers of an ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea) caught me by surprise the other day. This is the first year I've planted it, but I'm thinking this will be a recurring late-autumn choice from here on out. The colder weather brings out the more vibrant colors of the Kale. And I've seen these beauties around town through December in previous years--brightening up the landscape until the subzero weather hits.
Surprisingly, I still had enough Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) blooming the other day to pick a small bouquet. They're not at their prettiest, but they're nice enough in a small bud vase. We've had a lot of overnight frosts and freezes, but these beauties are planted near the house on the west side--where the afternoon sun bakes the soil and sustains life even under the winter snow.
If you live in a cool climate but want blooms for most of the year, Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is a sure bet. I probably should stop mentioning this plant in my Bloom Day posts. But it's among the very few plants in my garden that actually flower nine months out of the year.
As the more exposed foliage of Lamium meets the frozen wind, it shifts to interesting shades of burgundy and brown.
Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile) pleases the eye even in the depths of November. Its delectable wine-colored flower heads complement the golden and fading stems and foliage underneath.
Another Stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum) shifts from green to shades of gold, peach, and pink before taking a winter rest.
I have no Rose buds or blooms to offer, but this healthy branch of foliage is stunning in its simplicity.
Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) and Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus)--residing with the Snapdragons in the warm western microclimate--appear confused. Should they go to sleep, or stretch out with new growth?
Bishop's Weed (Aegopodium podagraria) is still green, blanketed in the embrace of fallen Oak leaves.
Dwarf Forsythia (Forsythia viridissima) and Alpine Currant (Ribes alpinum) are tinged with frost damage and losing their battles with the cold. But their golden hues are brilliant in the afternoon light.
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) has lost most of its leaves, although a few still cling stubbornly to delight the eye.
Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) is at its loveliest--with bright red fruits adorning its multicolored branches.
Evergreen Iris fans anticipate a warm blanket of snow.
And the glorious Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), that I probably should dig out because of its invasive reputation, seems to plead for its place in my garden. No other plant is more brilliant in this November landscape.
I guess November is more vibrant than I remember. I might have to move it up in the rankings.
Special thanks--particularly appropriate this month--goes to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow Up.