The colors of late fall are inspired by the landscape: flaxen grasses, scarlet maples and sedum. Here in California I’m just starting to see the ginkgos go gold and native grapevines turn rust. Sidewalks are littered with the leaves of London plane trees.
Though November in the U.S. is marked by giant turkeys at the centers of dining tables and college football, I like to remember that this month and this season are most noted for what’s happening outside. Changing leaves signify upcoming winter dormancy, with fall plantings reaping postfrost rewards.
Whether you live in Vermont or Arizona, get outside and tie up loose ends before it’s too cold. Rake, plant and prep for winter. Here’s what you can do in your garden this November.
Northwest. “Keep gathering those leaves,” writes landscape designer Karen Chapman. “One of the beautiful aspects of autumn is that the wonderful tapestry of fall leaves is woven over a period of several months.”
She continues: “Shades of crimson, amber and gold come and go as each tree and shrub takes its turn in the spotlight. For us, however, it means that just when we thought we had finished sweeping up leaves, we have to start all over again. Consider it your November workout, grab your rake and gather nature’s black gold just as you did last month.”
California. “Other than the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven or the sight of a quarterback tossing a football to a receiver in the flat, nothing makes me feel better about November than a persimmon tree fully loaded with gleaming orange fruit among foliage turning a matching color,” writes garden editor Bill Marken.
“This is a plant that says a lot about gardening in California, and maybe about California in general,” he says. Native to Asia, it has made itself home in the state. It’s easy to grow. It’s quirky — the fruit of the most common species is so astringent that you can’t eat it until frost or time softens it.”
Texas. “Overseed your lawn with perennial rye for a green winter lawn. In our area it’s not really perennial and will die off once the weather warms up in the spring,” writes landscape designer Jenny Peterson.
“Winterize your lawn by spraying it weekly with a seaweed solution, and if you fertilize, be sure to use a lawn fertilizer that is high in phosphorus for healthy root growth. Look for nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratios like 8-6-12, 8-12-16 or 10-5-14 on a winter fertilizer package,” she suggests.