Evergreen plants to enjoy in November

Depending on which way you look at it, November is either approaching the end of the gardening year or the start of the new one. Once the autumn leaves have fallen the evergreens come into their own; having been the backbone of the garden all year round, in November they make a colourful backdrop to seasonal flowers, frosted grasses bare branches, and the coloured stems of shrubs.

Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)
Photo: Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree). Source: www.gardeningexpress.co.uk

This is peak season for easy-to-grow evergreens such as Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) which at this time of year displays white flowers and pink fruit both at the same time (the fruits are from last year’s flowers). A compact shrub or small tree, it’s undemanding, thriving in sun or light shade, and will tolerate pollution.

Fatsia Japonica (False Castor Oil Plant)
Photo: Fatsia Japonica (False Castor Oil Plant). Source: www.crocus.co.uk

Fatsia Japonica (False Castor Oil Plant) looks exotic but is equally unfussy. Left unpruned it will grow slowly to a large shrub but it’s not difficult to prune to the desired size. At this time of year the glossy dark green leaves are joined by clusters of fluffy cream flowers followed by black berries. Best in light shade.

Eleagnus ebbingei (Silverberry)
Photo: Eleagnus ebbingei (Silverberry). Source: emeraldplants.co.uk

Eleagnus ebbingei (Silverberry), is another garden stalwart. It’s silvered mid-green leaves are completely silver coloured on the undersides. It bears fragrant creamy-white flowers. A large shrub which is useful for hedging, it will grow in any soil (except boggy) in sun or light shade.

Plants made for the shade

Shade garden
Shade garden. Photo: www.pininterest.co.uk

Most gardeners have at least one shady spot in their garden. Whether the shade is cast by buildings or trees, these areas can be difficult to plant as they often also present the challenge of dry or damp soil. But there are plants that love these conditions. Plant well and this area of the garden can be a cool and relaxing oasis away from the summer sun.

Before you start, always enrich the soil, incorporating plenty of organic matter to retain moisture. Mulch after planting, and water well for the first few months. If you have a tree or large shrub casting shade you can remove the bottom layer of branches to let in more light.

Light or colourful foliage will lift the gloom, and pale flowers will stand out and brighten up the darkest corners. These plants will thrive in shade and continue to look good in the summer months.

Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon Grape) ‘Apollo’
Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon Grape) ‘Apollo’. Photo: www.rhs.org.uk

Three evergreen shrubs for shade include:

      • Aucuba japonica (spotted laurel) varieties with spots and splashes of gold on their glossy green leaves, with the bonus of red berries in autumn;
      • Elaeagnus ebbingei ‘Eleador’ has leathery variegated green and yellow leaves with small fragrant flowers in autumn and winter berries;
      • Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) ‘Apollo’ is a vigorous low spreading shrub adorned with deep yellow flowers in spring followed by black berries in summer.

       

Vinca Minor
Vinca Minor. Photo: www.crocus.co.uk

Three choices for low-maintenance evergreen ground cover plants are:

    • Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle) which can flower all through the year, spreading well without becoming a nuisance;
    • Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’ (Balkan cranesbill) is a semi-evergreen and bears crimson-purple flowers on slender stems above aromatic light green leaves from May until September;
    • Liriope muscari ‘Monroe White’ (Lily-turf) is particularly effective at lining the edges of a shady path. The pure white flowers bloom from August until November.
Liriope Muscari.
Liriope Muscari. Photo: www.crocus.co.uk

And finally, no shady border would be complete in summer without:

  • Digitalis (Foxglove) – the quintessential summer flowering woodland plant for shade. Likewise the excellent
  • Cyclamen Hederifolium, a bulb flowering from late summer into September, and
  • Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ (Japanese anemone) with dark, divided leaves and pure white flowers with contrasting yellow stamens.