November Bloom Day 2023

For today’s post, I’ve decided to combine November’s bloom day with a few garden updates. Our garden is located in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon on the side of a northeast facing slope. Although the new USDA hardiness zone map insists we are now zone 8b, I suspect we are still a solid zone 7.

A lot has changed in the month since our spooky October’s bloom day. We’ve gone from warm, green, and sunny to a cool, yellow, and rainy in the space of a few weeks. In the front yard, one of our summer projects is complete – the installation of the fence on either side of our bridge. Immediately beyond that fence is a 5-6 foot drop to the creek below, which is obscured by the bushes from this angle.

Looking NW along the new fence line. This keeps the deer out.

Earlier in the year, our showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) bloomed for the first time and now we now we have seed pods. I like this stage, where the pods open up revealing the brown seeds that overlap like bird feathers.

I was surprised to see how showy (and long lasting) the fruit on our native orange honeysuckle vine (Lonicera ciliosa) has been. This plant was from a cutting rescued from a clearcut operation across the street.

The white and green speckled leaves of Acanthus ‘Whitewater’ decided to make an appearance just in time to be killed by frost. I’ve given up on this plant – a major disappointment that I’ve documented a couple times before. The one I tried coddling in a pot ended up rotting away before spring arrived. This one sprouted from a bit of root that got left behind. Time to dig it out.

Sometimes, I’m a a slow learner. I complained in a previous post about how hard it is to peel off gloves when they are wet and covered with slippery clay. This year, I suddenly had some inspiration and bought a pair that were a size larger. Hopefully that will give me enough wiggle room at the finger tips to get a better grip and pull them off. So far, so good.

The back rock garden was winding down even before we had our first frosts on October 28-30th. If you look closely, you can still see hints of blue Salvia patens ‘Guanajuato’ blooming in the middle of the photo and a few scattered pink Clarkia amoena.

One more shot of the Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ before the leaves dropped, just because they were so cool. I’ve never seen the yellow speckling before.

And, a late blooming Biarum tenuifolium ssp. abbreviatum. This one was more showy than the one that made it into my October bloom day post.

The woody flowers of Carlina acaulis will last well into 2024. Each of those petals are hard, like a toothpick. At this stage, it’s technically done blooming and you are seeing the parachuted seeds being released from the center. Really, really cool.

Nootka cypress (Callitropsis nootkatensis) from a cutting off of a tree chopped down at Oregon State University. Sorry – not enough contrast for it to stand out from the arborvitae, Douglasfir, and maples behind it. Here it’s doing it’s best to block an ugly building on the neighbor’s side. Drimys winteri, from a friend, planted about 20 feet north of the Nootka cypress for the same purpose. It can’t grow fast enough at this point.

I finally found some of the goldenrod I’ve been looking for (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’) at Dancing Oaks Nursery this fall. Also bought a Lobelia laxiflora ‘Candy Corn’, Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii, and some asters (Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Betel Nut’) at the same time. These were planted on the slope heading down to the creek, which is where I hope they will intermingle with the horsetail to create a wet prairie garden effect. But, I had to wait for the ground-nesting yellow jackets to die off for the winter first. Lil jerks got me three times this fall.

Nearby, the top part of my grafted witch hazel died off years ago, but the rootstock sprouted and lived on. I’ve been waiting each spring to see what color the flowers would be. Little did I know it would bloom in late October, when the yellow flowers are sort of masked by the yellow autumnal leaves occurring at the same time.

November seemed to come up suddenly with lots of rain. The black and red seeds of Paeonia obovata var. willmottiae are still hanging on even though the leaves are turning yellow.

Sternbergia lutea, a yellow amaryllis relative, blooming at the beginning of the month.

The calendulas (Calendula officinalis) have revived with the onset of cool, wet weather and are blooming again. This is our first year with these in the garden, grown from seed from Tamara at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you!

Last of the flowers of Cyclamen hederifolium (upper left), Erigeron glaucus ‘Sea Breeze’ (upper right), and Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Le Reve’ (lower left). Soon these will be gone, but we have the first of the fall Johnny jump ups (Viola tricolor) starting (lower right). They will bloom all winter.

Desperately picking the last of the apples and trying to dry them before they all turn mealy and gross. We got several new varieties off of our grafts this year – Piñata and Belle de Boskoop are the two I can remember at the moment. The egg basket is from my my grandmothers farm.

The seed pods of Iris foetidissima have begun to split open revealing orange. Gotta pick these and use them in an arrangement before they drop as they tend to come up everywhere if I don’t.

A couple weekends ago, I was in the San Francisco area and bought more (!) broadleaf evergreen shrubs from a nursery down there. Working clockwise from the rear left plant, Rhamnus crocea, Cercocarpus leptophylla, Rhamnus ilicifolia, Ceanothus cuneatus, and Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’. I don’t have room for any of these, but I am determined to wedge them in somewhere. It seems like just the other day that I promised myself no more shrubs… You can see how well that went. Also brought home a few Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Queen of Hearts’ that were going to be tossed. I am planting those along the creek where I hope they won’t be washed away this winter. Looking forward to some bright, cheery reds every fall if they become established.

L had the driveway all cleared the other day. By the following morning, it was covered with yellow poplar leaves again. Many, many more on the way.

Yellow and gold everywhere in the back woods. Yellow apple leaves on the left, golden leaves on the bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in the center, and pale yellows from the bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) and thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) underneath.

One of the few red fall colors in our yard is this creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster adpressus). This is the most vibrant it has ever been. Nice contrast with a bit of blue-gray, stringy lichen and yellow poplar leaves.

There are always a few red flowers left on the Chilean glory vine (Eccremocarpus scaber) in November. Our overwintering Anna’s hummingbirds appreciate them.

The fuzzy flying asteroids of a coyotebush, Baccharis pilularis. An evergreen relative of daisies. I saw hillsides covered with these near Mt. Tamalpais a couple weekends ago. Lots of variety in shapes, sizes, leaf color, flower density, etc.  Surprisingly fragrant en masse. How is this shrub not more popular?

With the rains come the fungi. Mushrooms at the base of the Douglasfir stump next to the side door. Each year, I think I will have time to identify them, and each year they are all rotted away by the time I get to it.

This mushroom popped up underneath the apple tree – the immature stage on the left, and the mature stage a couple days later on the right. Probably not going to have the time to identify this one either.

Ending with a couple photos of houseplants blooming at work. I never expected my aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) to bloom in my office, but there ya go.

And, best of all the starfish flower (Stapelia gigantea) in the greenhouse! Two people couldn’t detect a scent at all, but I certainly could smell the stink without any problem.

That’s a wrap. Thanks for reading! Check out other Bloom Day posts from around the world over at our Carol Michel’s blog, May Dreams Gardens.

Next time, I will be returning to the Mexico series with a visit to a Mennonite nursery. Time to start doing some research!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Kris P

    That was an interesting and diverse post! Congratulations on completing the bridge fence project. I love your apt description of the milkweed seeds. I grow Lobelia laxiflora (inherited with the garden) too. It’s a bit invasive in my USDA zone 11a garden and I pull some of it up each year to keep it withjn bounds butI I’ve never been tempted to pull it out as a neighbor once recommended – I suspect your winters will keep it in line in any event. I wish I could grow witch hazel and that I had even a small portion of your fall color. The ‘Fuyu’ persimmon and ‘Sango Kaku’ will provide a brief flash of that but probably not until late December.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I’ve heard a few people mention how aggressive Lobelia laxiflora can be, but thankfully we have had a very different experience with it. I planted one (a different cultivar) 11 years ago in the sun garden that receives reflected heat on the south side of the house and gets absolutely no supplemental water during the summer. It’s barely spread 3 feet in that time. I think the lack of water during the growing season that keeps it in check. I’ve had a similar experience with a supposedly aggressive dwarf bamboo.
      Most of our fall colors have switched to tans and browns, still pretty, but I can feel the gloom of winter approaching!

  2. Beth@PlantPostings

    Oh how lovely! You have lots of beautiful blooms still, and the foliage is gorgeous. The fungi are awesome, too, and the starfish flower…fun! Your photography is incredible!

  3. Tamara - Chickadee Gardens

    Nice haul from the Bay Area! And I agree – why isn’t baccharis more popular? I love your description of its fuzzy flying asteroid flowers. Perfect. Glad the calendula is blooming, you’ll have millions more in no time with a variety of shades of orange, yellow and coral.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      We actually did get a nice variety of colors from the calendulas, I just showed the one, and now I also have many more seeds to spread to other parts of the garden It certainly is a prolific plant. I am excited to see how long the flowers last this winter.

  4. Elena

    Lovely garden! It’s great to see what gardens from other such different parts of the world look like, specially using the plants native to those regions. Most of the plants you show are unfamiliar to me here in the eastern part of our country, and I look forward to seeing more of your garden in the future.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      Yes, it is lovely to see what happens in other regions. I love the fall colors in the eastern part of the country, much more varied and vibrant than we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. danger garden

    Great shot of the Asclepias speciosa pod and that dried Carlina acaulis is fantastic. I had to laugh at the mention you’re out of space. Isn’t your chunk of land pretty large?

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      2/3 of an acre, but I like to keep things open and many of the shrubs I am drawn to like their light. Not to mention a good part of our yard is wooded or shaded by the neighbors’ trees. Broadleaf evergreen shrubs are my weakness. When I’m at the nursery, I think to myself that surely I can find room for one more, not remembering the dozen or so sitting back at home waiting to be planted. Fortunately, the mortality rate is high. There’s always a corpse that needs grubbing out and to be replaced with a new vegetative victim.

  6. Lisa

    So many pretties! That Sternbergia lutea is certainly yellow! I love mushroom photos. The early stage photo is striking.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I certainly was surprised I caught the mushroom at that stage. It startled me because I didn’t know what it was at first.

  7. Anna K

    Your self-reflection on telling yourself not to buy any more shrubs made me laugh. I’ve promised myself that exact thing many times over, and ALWAYS break that promise when I come across the next lovely thing I don’t have room for. LOL! Addiction is a precarious thing… I love that spiny Carlina – what an interesting plant!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I caved and bought a few Chrysolepis chrysophylla last weekend too… At least I had a place planned for one of them.

  8. Aman

    Embracing the seasonal shift in your Oregon garden! From sunny greens to cool yellows, the evolving landscape tells a beautiful November tale.

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