GARDEN FANATIC: November is great for gardening

Safely past the elections, November’s garden will surely provide a respite from the anticipated holidays and lingering sadness over equality issues. Economic uncertainty may dampen our yuletide spirits, but the beauty of Camellia sasanquaCamellia sasanqua, in full Thanksgiving bloom, will bring a smile, even to a Scrooge.

November’s flowers are the most floriferous of the year, with garden color and drama reaching its peak. Salvia, blue hibiscus, tree mallow, princess flower and roses are a few of the landscape plants that put on a great show this month. Bringing additional delight are the fall annuals and perennials — snapdragon, cyclamen, pansy, chrysanthemum and sweet pea.

Vigilance is still the keyword regarding pests, diseases and weeds. Warmer temperatures allow certain garden insects, fungi and unwanted plants to linger late into the year. Always properly identify any suspected intruder before taking chemical action. Don’t forget that it’s always safe to use your gloved hands to initiate pest management and removal of weeds.

It is also safe to prune larger trees, such as eucalyptus and pines, now through the spring. Santa Ana winds can wreak havoc on landscapes and structures. Thoughtful pruning can mitigate damage and the potential for fire. It’s fair and considerate to consult with neighbors, to discuss their view sheds, your privacy and enjoyment of your trees. It is also fair to share tree service costs.


Watering and fertilizing are still essential, until winter storms and cooler weather arrive. Rather than relying on a timer, hand water on an as-needed basis this month. Watering your street is also poor management of resources, so check your sprinkler coverage.

If your garden is getting thin on mulch, fill in the bare spots this weekend. Not just a top dressing, mulch will discourage weeds, add essential nutrients and conserve water.

Pyracantha, holly and toyon produce great berries for your Christmas wreath. But they are also an important food source for many wild birds. Other sources of berries and fruit include natal plum, strawberry tree and cotoneaster.

Deer are returning to some gardens, looking for food and water. If you live in their territory, be mindful of new plantings this month. Although repellents are available, with varying efficacy, it is more effective to landscape with plants that deer generally avoid.


See you in the garden.

 STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to award-winning writer Catharine Cooper, and has one cat and four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to