Nature Calendar: November in the British Garden
The warm days of an ‘Indian summer’ may make the early part of November an extension of autumn. But the later part usually brings the frost, fog and sunless days of winter.
The Kaffir lily still provides a welcome splash of colour. The hardy evergreen climber Clematis calycina comes into flower in November, and in the rock garden there are still a number of hardy gentians.
Some roadsidebloom for the second time now, among them daisy, dandelion, hawkweed, hawkbit, jack-by-the-hedge, red and white deadnettle, and even the violet. As one generation of garden weeds follows another throughout the year, chickweed, shepherd’s purse, groundsel, annual grass and others still can be seen.
SHRUBS AND TREES
One of the most decorative trees at this time of year is the evergreen Arbutus hybrida, with its red bark and clusters of white flowers. Hardy varieties oferica, and veronicas such as Veronica angustifolia and the beautiful V. speciosa Autumn Glory are still in flower, as well as all the ivies. Prunus subhirtella autumnalis, the fragrant Lonicera standishii, and the winter-flowering Glastonbury thorn (monogyna praecox) are just beginning to bloom.
After the frosts, the last leaves of beech and oak will fall in the autumn gales and the larch, a notable deciduous conifer, will drop its needles.
Cotoneasters are particularly striking at this time, as they have bright red berries as well as tinted leaves. Orange and pink spindle berries,, contrast with the scarlet berries of similar shape of another climber, Celastrus articulatus. Both are easily recognized, for they split to reveal a bright lining. The hardy and decorative Pernettya mucronata has purple or red berries.
Robins are in full song, hedge sparrows and thrushes can be heard, and wrens are singing in woods and shrubberies.
The flocks of birds will persist until the spring, though fluctuating in size and composition. A chaffinch flock, for instance, may include smaller flocks of bramblings, greenfinches, linnets, yellow-hammers and buntings; tree sparrows may gather with the house sparrows.
A few moths can still be seen on warmer evenings, among them angle shades, sword-grass, and silver Y. The red admiral and small tortoiseshell butterflies also venture out on sunny days.
The red squirrel, now rare in the British Isles, looks its best in November, with its-rich chestnut brown coat, tufted ears and bushy tail. Some bats do not go into hibernation until the end of the month, the pipistrelle, in particular, being seen on the mildest evenings.
Newts have now left their ponds, and are hibernating in crevices near the water.