Other Plants to look for in November

Note: Date refers to the year when the plant was first listed as a 'Plant of the Month'

Return to current Plant of the Month
Arbutus unedo - H. Cossham Callicarpa 'Profusion' - S Turner Kniphofia rooperi - K Keeton Mahonia 'Lionel Fortescue' - S Turner
Arbutus unedo (2012)
Possibly one of the oldest trees in the Garden, and certainly one of the handsomest, the Killarney Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), situated on the left side as you pass through the Clarkehouse Road gatehouse entrance, is at its very best in November. At this time of year the fruit is showing its full colour of orange-red, and resembling a strawberry. One unusual phenomenon of this tree is that it flowers at the same time as it fruits. The flowers are found in drooping panicles just like heather, which is not surprising as the Arbutus is a member of the Ericaceae (heather) family. This tree originates from districts in South West Ireland, particularly Killarney and also in the Mediterranean region. Its beauty is displayed all the year round with the deep brown shredding bark, and dark glossy evergreen leaves. One may be tempted to try one of the fruit, but only one, as it is a dry and disappointing mouthful. Hence apparently the name unedo, in Latin ‘I eat one’!
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' (2014)
A November highlight, often an unexpected sight in an autumn garden, this graceful shrub with arching branches clothed in dense clusters of little, round, pearly-violet berries can be found in the AGM (Award of Garden Merit) border in front of the beech hedge - above the Lavallee Hawthorn, as the path rises up to the fountain. In the Verbenaceae family, this species (one of 140) originates in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces of China, and was introduced to cultivation by French plant collector (and missionary, as so many were) Emile Marie Bodinier, about 1900. The species name derives from the Greek, meaning beautiful fruit. In the past it was thought necessary to plant callicarpas in groups (there is one such in the woodland garden in SBG) to facilitate cross-pollination and the production of a good display of fruit. But in 1962 nurserymen T. van Veen and Sons of Boskoop, Holland, introduced the progeny of C.b. var. giraldii 'Profusion' which is very free-berrying, even when young and a single shrub.
Kniphofia rooperi (2013)
The Mediterranean Climate Garden includes areas of the world that have warm, wet winters followed by hot, dry summers. The planting is arranged in geographical origin, and there are five areas of the world with this type of climate. These include, Cape of South Africa, Southwest Australia, coastal Chile, coastal California and of course the Mediterranean Basin itself. One spectacular plant as you enter the garden is one of the red-hot pokers. This particular variety Kniphofia rooperi, also known as the winter poker, has the great advantage of flowering well into November, thus giving some wonderful autumn colour. The flowers are large, almost spherical, orange-red opening to greenish yellow on stout stems. The evergreen leaves are rather lax. A native of South Africa, specifically the Eastern Cape, introduced to the UK in 1854, these pokers were regarded as doubtfully hardy, but they have proved over the past 20 years to survive to -9C.
Mahonia x media ‘Lionel Fortescue’ (2015) This attractive plant found at the bottom of the Asian Garden (area N on the downloadable map) and is a very fine architectural evergreen shrub, with spine-toothed dark green leathery leaves, The yellow flowers are beautifully fragrant, produced from November to February in long racemes. The flowers are followed by deep bluish purple fruit much loved, particularly by blackbirds. This plant is a cross between two mahonias from different areas in the world. Mahonia japonica, whose origin is uncertain, but long cultivated in Japan, and thought to have been introduced to this country in mid 19th century. Mahonia oiwakensis subsp. lomariifolia, the other parent, is a native of Burma and Western China, and was introduced in the 1930s. Much hybridisation was performed both in Ireland and this country in the 20th century, and particularly by Lionel Fortescue, a former Eton schoolmaster, who moved to the Garden House, in Buckland Monachoram, Devon. Some 200 seedlings were raised from this cross, of which five were retained. Sir Eric Savill of Savill Garden, Windsor selected one which was later named ‘Lionel Fortescue’.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Silver Feather - S Turner Miscanthus sinensis 'Yakushima Dwarf' - S Turner
Miscanthus sinensis 'Silver Feather' (2016)
Although there is a long tradition of using M. sinensis in Japanese gardens and decorative arts, and it was introduced to western gardens over a hundred years ago, it is only in the last 25 years that its many cultivars (along with numerous species of grasses and sedges) have become very popular here. Native throughout Eastern Asia, in East North America there have been problems of invasiveness, but mostly the cultivars are sterile. On the west Main Border above the fountain in SBG a large dense clump of M. sinensis ‘Silver Feather’ makes a fine accent plant, the foliage swaying in the faintest breeze and the 2m high silky flowers changing to light plumes of seeds as November progresses.
Miscanthus sinensis'Yakushima Dwarf' (2016)
At the top of the east border M. sinensis 'Yakushima Dwarf', a compact form with masses of delicate flower heads, makes a lovely feature through the winter.