I first contributed to Helen’s end of month view two years ago so I now have the same view of the garden for the last three years. It’s like visiting a town you’ve not been to in years; most of it is unchanged and familiar, a few bits have changed completely. In the garden a large magnolia, clump of bamboo, large hazel and an Osmanthus are gone. Everything else is much the same. It makes more sense to talk in general terms about where things are at the end of November than to contemplate what is late or early this year compared to years before.
The sun is low in the sky, picking out plants with structural qualities. The warmth of the light enriches the colour of everything, though when the sun is hidden and the light more blue, it is the contrasting golds of autumn colouring that stand out. What remains of deciduous foliage looks insubstantial and not set to last much longer.
It is the season of the evergreens. Largely overlooked and serving only as a backdrop to the flamboyant colours of summer flowers, they now show their worth. Sometimes cold weather enhances their colouring, the white variegation of Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’ turns pink, some conifers assume red or brown tints. The main thing though, it is that they are still green and visibly alive when all around is bare soil and skeletal branches that would look no different if they were actually dead.
The problem with evergreens though is that they get inexorably bigger every year and almost always outcompete the deciduous plants around them. Plant too many and then show any reluctance to ruthlessly cull when the need arises and you will end up with nothing but the evergreens and eventually have a deadly dull evergreen canopy below which nothing will grow.
There are also a great many evergreens with dark green foliage and not so many that are light in colour. Green conifers underplanted with Rhododendrons and Camellias might work with enough space or it could be funereal. I value variegated Pittosporum, Astelia and Bamboos for being both evergreen and bright.
My aim is to keep the balance of light and shade in the garden fairly constant. Looking at old pictures is a great way of monitoring progress.
Steve at Glebe House is hosting links to other end of month posts.