Those Dazzling November Days

In the normal course of events, November is one of the two most dismal months of the year. At least, in my part of the world. An inky blackness falls by 5 PM, the leaves are dead, and a penetrating chill is in the air. (The other most dismal month is February.)

This photo was taken on November 10, 2014.
This photo was taken on November 10, 2014.

This is what November looked like in my garden last year. The poet Thomas Hood (who lived in the comparatively mild climate of England) expressed the quality of Novemberness when he wrote:

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers. no leaves, no birds –


So far this year, however, it’s as if November got a personality transplant. Days that are mild or even downright warm.  Bright blue skies with a mellow, friendly sun. Leaves still changing to their bright autumn hues, but also – flowers! Last year the ground was frozen by now – this year we’re still waiting for a hard frost.

Picture taken November 8, 2015.

Here’s a picture of that same spot, taken yesterday.

'Golden Raindrops' Crabapple
‘Golden Raindrops’ Crabapple

But that’s just the beginning. My ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple has a bold but cheerful green-yellow color scheme. Though admittedly, the ‘Donald Wyman’ crab in the front is completely leafless.


Here’s a closer look.


OK, I know Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus) is invasive, but we inherited this one from the former owners, and Judy won’t let me remove it. Also, as far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to be invasive in this area. But anyhow – that’s a pretty cheerful color for well into November, isn’t it?

Common Witch Hazel
Common Witch Hazel

Here’s a young Witch Hazel growing (Hamemelis virginiana) in the East Side yard. Three winters in a row it was chewed to the ground by rabbits, then I protected it with hardware cloth. Now it’s growing, and showing its thanks with some nice foliage color. Next year maybe we’ll see some flowers.


This Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba) with the brilliant golden-yellow color is a couple of blocks from my house, but I had to show it anyway. And look at that sky – that is not a November sky.

Switchgrass 'Northwind'
Switchgrass ‘Northwind’

Normally my Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’) is a straw color by now. This year the color is richer with more gold and orange tones mixed in.




Here’s another couple of pictures of Switchgrass, just because I love it.

Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) doesn’t look quite so different this year, though the leaves are certainly staying green longer.

Shrub Rose 'Cassie'
Shrub Rose ‘Cassie’

And flowers? Well, someone seems to have convinced ‘Cassie’ that it’s actually June.


Zinnias, Heleniums, and Gaillardia – like a bunch of energetic toddlers, none of them seem ready to go to sleep.

I’m trying to enjoy this suspiciously sweet November. It’s hard not to feel, though, that winter is lurking around the corner. It’s chuckling maliciously to itself, waiting for us to get completely comfortable, before hitting us with a massive blizzard and sub-zero temperatures. But perhaps not.

Has November been acting strange where you live?

75 Comments on “Those Dazzling November Days

  1. Yes, November is strange here too – not far south of Indianapolis. My mango colored coneflower (can’t recall the name) has five new blooms on it. The Fragrant Angel has two. I had to mow the grass yesterday. It’s strange weather – maybe it’s the new normal.

  2. We had a very warm and dry start to our fall, then flooding. It’s cooler, but not as cool as it used to be this time of of year. Part of that is El Nino, of course, but our fall and winters come later and our summers hang around longer. Lots of pretties still in your garden, but oh, that switch grass!

  3. Agree, very crazy fall here. I keep thinking everything is almost done, but then the leaves and flowers (and tomatoes) are still just hanging on. I have no idea when fall cleanup will be. Late for sure.

    • I know, I’m still waiting for leaves to fall. I hate to do the raking more than once, though despite my best efforts that’s what usually happens.

  4. very warm November over here in Berlin, too. I ferár that winter will get his hands back on us well into late spring, next year. You know, snow in May and some such nonsense…

  5. Ridiculously warm here in the UK too, especially at night time, no difference between the day and night temperatures, we will pay for it later!
    February is a wonderful month, full of snowdrops, hellebores and the first daffodils, but then we don’t usually have any snow!

  6. I agree about February being the bleakest month, November can be beautiful here, as it is at the moment, or it can be wet and grey but it isn’t usually very cold. I always love your Panicums, mine never look as good. I’d say invasive is a term that very much applies to a particular place, it depends on climate, soil conditions etc. so if your plant isn’t invasive where you are enjoy it without guilt.

    • Very true that “invasive” is a matter of location. Nothing is invasive everywhere. For A. allatus, I think it would be invasive in a milder, wetter climate.

  7. We are enjoying a similar November Jason, I read yesterday that globally we are set for a 1 celsius rise in temperatures and heading towards 2. I do not want snow or freezes either but its very worrying to think where we are heading as a planet.

  8. Late summer and autumn have been the best part of the year here in the UK, it has now turned very wet although still amazingly warm. The majority of trees have dropped their leaves very quickly without a frost which I can only put down to the lack of water.

  9. That ginko against the blue sky is stunning !!! we too have been having blue skies and Sunshine the past week, we even broke a record with 16 C° night temperature !!! whereas we sometimes have nightfrost in November !

  10. That is perhaps the most depressing poem about autumn that I have ever read! Isn’t Cassie beautiful? November is surprisingly warm here in Norfolk UK too. I’m still wearing a t-shirt and my sweet peas are in flower! If it wasn’t for the leaves falling from the trees, I might think it’s September.

    • I have some Knautia macedonica that I just noticed has started to bloom, and some Trumpet honeysuckle with flower buds. If the weather doesn’t turn very cold they will bloom also.

  11. Yes, it is strange here weather-wise. Much too warm and dry. I am not going to complain tho. Much better than the below zero, cold and blowing. The trees are dropping their leaves slowly it seems. Taking turns, such as the service berry has lost every leaf, then the Ash now the maple is slowly depositing it’s leaves on the ground. The Ash is holding on to the majority of it’s seeds too. Now that seems weird. Maybe it is waiting for a good rain. February is the dreaded month to me. Maybe El Nino will give it some life this year.

  12. You’ve captured some beauty in your urban garden, it’s just lovely! As I was clearing up yesterday, and putting everything away, I thought I should be capturing some shots in the late Fall too in my garden, but alas, everything has been cleared up and put away. February is probably my worst month too, but I am trying hard to enjoy each season and embrace it 🙂

  13. Yes, November has been beautifully different for us, too. Another bright blue sky day today, following a week or more of the same. Long may it continue!

  14. Nice pictures! I especially like the picture of the northern sea oats. As we Mainers might say, this November has been wicked weird. Yesterday, it was sixty degrees, and when Clif and I were out and about, I didn’t even wear a jacket. However, this warm weather is good for those who live on a modest budget—our fuel consumption is way down.

  15. The inky darkness of the day a a mere 6 PM with the skies so blue and the days so warm is unsettling. I am not sure how my forebears handled the shortening days, but I could see how migratory nomadic habit arose. I realize I would have been following the sun. The Druids no doubt used Stonehenge to tell them when to travel north or somewhere to the south. Makes me consider there might be pairs of these timekeepers!

  16. We had a hard frost the other night, but the bees friend is *still* blooming, although I think the bees have given up for the season. I too inherited a burning bush from the previous owner of my house, and mine too does not propagate. I think mine is a dwarf variety – maybe they are sterile?

    • Mine has fruit, so it isn’t sterile. Drove up from Springfield yesterday, and it was much colder than Chicago. Thanks, Lake Michigan.

  17. Hello Jason, Autumn is looking very good where you are! I can’t remember the last time we had a blue sky. We’ve had ay after day of the sky being overcast of cloudy and while it’s keeping the temperatures up such that we haven’t had frost yet, a little bit of sunshine wouldn’t go amiss.

  18. Oh yes, seems we are having a similarly mild November here to yours. They recorded the highest November temperatures ever at the weekend…. somewhere in the south-east of Germany it was 25°C! My roses are producing more and more buds and the garden just doesn’t want to shut down yet. I also have that sense of foreboding though!

  19. Yes, spring in Australia, at least in our region, is very unpredictable this year……lots of rain, and everything blossoming about two weeks earlier than usual….

  20. Beautiful ginkgo photo!
    An early freeze killed everything off here weeks ago and now with the autumn cleanup wrapped up I’m faced with an excess of warm planting weather…. so I bought even more bulbs 🙂

  21. It’s been an incredibly mild November here in the south-east UK too. Such lovely photos, Jason (Judy) and lovely to see all that colour in your garden. The Euonymus is gorgeous. My roses are still going, as are the pots of geraniums. It’s weird but great to have an extended gardening season.

  22. Glad you could foil the rabbits away from your Witch Hazel. It has a nice color. A mild November can be a treat. It’s been warm here but terribly wet. Finally yesterday there was some sunshine!

  23. We’ve also had a warmer fall, but very wet. Thanks, El Nino!! You do have some nice color, though.

  24. Out here in the boonies, we have had a killing frost’ so this counts as Indian Summer. Looking back on notes of previous winters, at least of few 60 degree days were always evident.

  25. I was just filling bird feeders outside, and I found one of my foxglove blooming! It’s crazy, but I’m not going to complain. I’d really love it if our winters got just a bit shorter 🙂 That rosebush looks pretty amazing for mid-November.

  26. You still have lovely autumn colour. It is mild here too with plenty of blooms, but I still don’ t like November, it is grey, cheerless, damp and drippy.

  27. I love the burning bush…a keeper for me too, and wow, just look at cassie!
    We are having a similar time of it, incredibly mild temperatures and bright days, until five pm, then like you an inky darkness descends. Yesterday our weather turned with awful winds, sheet rain and much colder

    • We just had a cold turn but for the weekend it was mild and sunny once again. I feel like the weather is playing mind games with us poor mortals.

  28. I would have to agree that November and February are brutal….but this year November is making up for years of dark, brown drab…..thankfully I needed extra time to finish garden chores and November provided.

  29. I keep wondering if we’re going to get that dismal November weather in December, or if we’re just going to skip November this year (okay with me) and go straight from the glories of October to the beauty of winter.

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