What to do in your garden in November

Jim McCausland,  – November 9, 2004


Amaryllis. For immediate, dependable bloom, shop for pottedplants with buds that are already showing color. You can also buybulbs; they may bloom in a few weeks but can take as long as threemonths. Give them plenty of light and regular water.

Orchids. Winter is the peak bloom period for many orchids.In Seattle you can see thousands of plants and buy some at theNorthwest Orchid Society Fall Show & Sale (9-7 Nov 13, 9-4 Nov 14; $3 donation suggested; in theSnoqualmie Room at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; www.nwos.org or206/297-3708).

Shrubs and trees. Autumn is a fine time to plant deciduoustrees and shrubs; to see how they’ll look when they grow up, visitone of the Northwest’s many public gardens this month. In Seattle,visit the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden at Hiram M.Chittenden Locks. Take along a copy of Trees at the Locks,horticulturist Arthur Lee Jacobson’s updated and map-keyed tree andshrub list; visit www.arthurleej.com to order a copy ($2). In Portland, visit the campus of Reed College; view atree list and map at the school’s website (http://web.reed.edu/trees)and take a stroll among the stately old trees that adorn thecampus.

Spring-blooming bulbs. In outdoor beds, plant drifts ofanemones, bluebells, crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinth, hyacinth,Iris reticulata, ranunculus, and tulips. Species tulipsmultiply naturally; reliable long-term performers include Tulipa batalinii, T. clusiana, T. clusiana chrysantha, T.greigii, and T. kaufmanniana. For indoor forcing, buy bulbs of freesias,hyacinths, and paperwhite narcissus.

Wildflowers. Scatter wildflower seeds in weed-free beds.West of the Cascades, you’ll see seedlings by January and get firstbloom in early spring.

Winter-blooming shrubs. Sasanqua camellias bloom from nowthrough spring; ‘Yuletide’ is one of the best. Also look for Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Red’, Sarcococca, strawberry tree, and witch hazel.


Maintain tools. Before you put your tools away for thewinter, rub down wood handles with linseed oil, sharpen or replaceblades, and oil moving parts. In spring, everything will be readyto use.

Mow one last time. Cut the grass on a dry day at midmonth;you shouldn’t have to mow again until spring.

Protect dahlias and fuchsias. West of the Cascades, dahliatubers and hybrid fuchsias can survive a mild winter inwell-drained soil if you cover them with 4 inches of straw. Theymay not make it if the winter is harsh. If you don’t want to takethe risk, remove them from the ground as described at far left.