November at Chickadee Gardens

 The autumn color is nearly finished for the year and I wander the garden this day wondering what winter will bring. So far we have caught up on some of our rain deficit and we have yet to have our first hard frost. Are there any surprises this November? I observe a few oddities. All of the leaves from Quercus garryana, our native white oak, have completely fallen. This usually doesn't happen until well into winter, often many are still hanging on even in spring. I observe the conifers are still shedding needles by the zillions, that mushrooms are super-abundant this year and (I'll kick myself for saying this) the moles seem to be merciful. Some of our veggie garden had unusual patterns; for example, the purple cauliflower I've grown every year never formed flowers. It's big and gorgeous even still, but no flowers. I'm leaving them where they are to see if we get some winter surprises. 
All in all the garden looks fine for this time of the year. With that I give you a glimpse at Chickadee Gardens mid-November.

Agave neomexicana with Androsace lanuginosa, rock jasmine in the berm garden looking quite silvery and nice right now.

On the edge of the outermost garden, sun-loving plants in well-drained soil appreciate the berm they are on for drainage. Hebe 'Wingletye' foreground center with Agave parryi ssp. parryi, Heuchera 'Northern Fire' lower left, Phlomis russelliana, Agastache 'Kudos Red' lower right, and Arctostaphylos pumila upper right.

A shot of the textures in the meadow garden. 

Oscar the Agave parryi var. truncata with Stipa gigantea in the far background.

Wider shot with Oscar again looking north through the labyrinth garden.

Handsome trunk of Arctostaphylos 'Sentinel'

A bit of autumn color left on Cotoneaster horizontalis 'Variegata'.

Yucca recurvifolia with Tetrapanax papyrifer and tall stems of Siphium perfoliatum at the edge of the labyrinth garden.

New bronze-tinged growth of Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinkley'. This evergreen shrub is lovely now, but painfully slow growing in my garden.
Salix eleagnos var. angustifolia, rosemary willow, blowing in the wind.

Athyrium niponicum of some variety or another - Japanese painted fern. These did terribly this summer. In fact, most barely made an appearance. Now, however, they are bursting, just in time for winter. Still, I enjoy seeing them even if for a brief window.

Yucca rostrata with one of several water features for the birds.

The same rosemary willow on the left with spent but still upright Solidago 'Fireworks' on the right. There are also patches of rudbeckia and echinacea that I leave standing for the seeds. This patch is a current favorite of small songbirds, there are dozens bopping around every day from finches to chickadees to sparrows to juncos to towhees. This part of the garden is especially alive right now so I leave all of it for spring to do a cleanup.

Surprising autumn foliage color of Agapanthus 'Nigrescens'

Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web' recovered very well from the summer heat and has some lovely new growth.

Dorycnium hirsutum taking over. Seriously though, it's growing into the cistus above it, can you see it? Great plant for sunny, well-drained sites, though. Miscanthus 'Malepartus' autumn color is finished but I leave it standing all winter.

Many visitors have commented on this over the years asking what it is. It is Vitex rotundifolia, beach vitex. It is apparently invasive in coastal areas of the Southeast but here it is a much tamer woody ground cover. It is deciduous for me and has interesting color this time of the year. It hasn't spread much at all in my garden and makes an interesting foil to surrounding rosemary.

Pteris cretica 'Mayii' in a container by our front door. 

Some form of shelf fungi on a log in the shade garden. As these logs that I've placed all over the shade garden finally begin to decompose, many display forms of interesting fungi.

Asplenium scolopendrium (syn. Phyllitis scolopendrium), Hart's tongue fern in the shade garden. These look better every passing year and late in the season this year they look especially lovely.

Hooray for us! Our persimmon tree produced fruit for the first time! It is Persimmon 'Saijo', an astringent form of persimmon very popular in Japan. I harvested a bunch of non-ripe fruit to allow to ripen indoors but I did find a few super ripe ones on the tree. They were so sweet and tasty, amazing. Excellent autumn color on the foliage, by the way. This was planted in 2017 and is about 10' tall. We harvested close to 50 persimmons.

The fig tree has a great number of fruit, but I doubt they will ripen before they rot. Too bad, figs are my favorite.

Not much to report on the veggie garden other than it's still giving leeks, broccoli, kale, herbs and some lettuce. I need to spend a couple of days down there cleaning it up and remaking the raised beds with mesh on the bottom to keep moles from popping up. All my great soil is being drained into mole holes! 

Surprisingly for November there are flowers out there. Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy' is blooming away, much to the delight of our many hummingbirds.

Fuchsia speciosa has more flowers right now than it ever has. In fact, all of the fuchsias are looking pretty smart for mid-November. The summer heat did a number on them but they have rebounded nicely. I'm enjoying the flowers while I can.

Salvia microphylla going strong.

Cuphea, not sure of the species but it has endured in a pot for a few years now.

There are still several rogue flowers on Geranium 'Rozeanne' that look much more purple now than they do in summer.

Fuchsia 'Golden Gate' is blooming prolifically right now. Even if you are not a fan of traditional fuchisa colors, you have to admit this is very cheery on a cold November day.

Kniphofia thomsonii are all putting on a second flower show this year.

Abutilon from Joy Creek simply called 'Orange with Red Anthers' or something along those lines. I like this shot because it is set against the blue of my garden shed and really pops.

Speaking of Joy Creek Nursery, long ago I asked Maurice, one of the owners and my boss, what his favorite daphne is. He grows many species very well and is something of an expert. He cited this, Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance' and we happen to have had one languishing in a dark corner, so I bought it and rescued it. It's very happy now and will always remind me of Maurice.

Grevillea 'Neil Bell' is blooming like crazy - it's never bloomed so much before.

One final fuchsia for this post, Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' is going strong. This was always a customer favorite and with good reason. Its simple, clean white with green blushed flowers sparkle in a bit of shade.

Recently brought into the greenhouse for the winter, Salvia bullulata 'Pale Form' is just blooming now.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta', strawberry tree is an excellent evergreen tree that blooms now and has fun orange red fruits. The hummingbirds really enjoy this shrub, too.

A final shot of my greenhouse and a few plants in the works. It has been a couple of weeks since I had a job at Joy Creek Nursery and it is all beginning to sink in. It is sad, indeed, but also a new chapter for all of us. I am very happy Maurice gets to retire and I am also very happy to have learned so very much and made such enduring friendships. My next chapter is coming, I am still inventing it. I would love to do garden coaching and perhaps sell some of my plants if people are looking for some of what I grow. We'll see how it plays out and I'm putting it out there.

Hopefully, November has been and will continue to be kind to us all in terms of the garden and weather. As we head into December and much shorter days I note that every moment I get to be outside is a blessing. Even in the heart of winter there is much to see in the garden and I will continue to document and observe the happenings here.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens, thank you all so much for reading and also for commenting, we love hearing from you. Cheers and happy gardening to you all.


  1. Good looking fall garden with a lots of colors still. I love your Mahonia fortunei 'Dan Hinkley'; it's not easy to find in nurseries.
    I find leaving all clean up till spring challenging but I do it anyway, for the birds' sake. I have a tone of pine needles in my garden this year too. Winter usually knocks out much of my hairy clover, and I just need to tidy it up in spring. I'm most envious of your shelf fungi (WOW!) and tasty Persimmon.

    1. Thank you chavliness! That mahonia is handsome, maybe I should try to propagate it if it's not patented. Yes, I love a tidy garden but practice serious patience and it always pays off - the abundance of wildlife, birds especially, is fantastic.

      The hairy clover is going to get a haircut - ha ha! Sometimes winter sets it back a little but it's basically evergreen for me I find.

      That shelf fungis - I did a wow when I turned the corner the other day and spotted it. Glad to have a fellow fungi appreciator! Cheers!

  2. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the fall anomalies you've noted thus far. I'm impressed by all the flowering fuchsias and the fantastic fungi. Dorycnium hirsutum is quite aggressive in my garden too but so pretty in flower and out that I forgive it a lot. It just needs a watchful eye.

    I'm glad you're taking your time to assess your next steps. I'm sure you'll find a direction that fulfills you.

    1. It will be interesting, Kris, and to see what other anomalies manifest from heat dome in the future. I think that there are issues that will take a long time to come to the surface.

      Anyhow, yes that Dorycnium - you gave me seeds! What a great plant. I love it - the flowers are so cool and beloved by bees.

      Thanks for your words of encouragement. I'm on my way. xo

  3. I love all of your fuchsias and so wish they were hardy for me. Have brought one into the garage to see if I can overwinter it. Now that Joy Creek is closed I bet there would be a lot of people interested in buying plants from you. Intimidating but also exciting heading out on a new adventure.


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