In the evenings
I scrape my fingernails clean,
hunt through old catalogues for new seed,
oil work boots and shears.
This garden is no metaphor —
more a task that swallows you into itself,
earth using, as always, everything it can.

Jane Hirshfield, November, 

“Remembering Voltaire”

Sweet, bare-branched November. Sweet hearth fires and gray dawns and Indian corn. Sweet, sweet pumpkin bars.

Many consider this 11th month to be an auspicious time for manifestation. But first we must clear out the old. We rake leaves for compost, pull weeds, rid the garden of debris. And as we harvest the last of the eggplant and peppers, autumn sunlight washing us golden, we offer gratitude for the glory and abundance of the present moment. Wisdom and beauty are here, now. Like the white-tailed deer, peacefully grazing on the forbs and grasses along the quiet back road. She will disappear beyond the forest veil in an instant.

In the spirit of manifestation, here are 11 seeds of inspiration for the November gardener:

Sow poppy seeds on the full Frost Moon (November 4) for a dreamy spring.

Ditto larkspur. The spur of this showy and complex flower resembles the hind toe of the crested songbird for which it was named.

Watch the last of the leaves turn.

Plant a fruit tree. Fig, apple, persimmon or plum? One way to decide: Consider future chutney, pudding and pie.

Cilantro is surprisingly cold hardy. Growing some? More is more.   

Feed the birds.

Plant asparagus crowns.

Stop and smell the witch hazel flowers.

Force paperwhites, hyacinth, and amaryllis bulbs for holiday bloom.

Visit a pumpkin patch. 

Sow gratitude and watch it grow.

Celestial Kiss

According to National Geographic, one of the “Top 7 Must-See Sky Events for 2017” will occur on Monday, November 13. In the morning twilight, low in the eastern sky, Venus and Jupiter will appear to join, separated by just 18 arc-minutes — “equal to the apparent width of a half-lit moon.” Epoch conjunctions such as this aren’t once-in-a-lifetime happenings. Still, watching the sky’s two brightest planets canoodle at dawn is nothing short of magic. You’ll want binoculars for this celestial waltz.

The Gathering

Bring the magic of nature indoors this Thanksgiving season with a centerpiece of your own creation. Hollow a pumpkin and fill it with dahlias. Ignite the senses with cinnamon and eucalyptus. Embellish with pinecones, acorns, branches, seedpods, gourds, clementine, pheasant feathers, pomegranate, bundles of wheat wrapped in twine. Allow earth to inspire you. Just save room for Aunt Viola’s pumpkin bars.

Paperwhites 101

Paperwhite narcissus — or just paperwhites, as they’re more commonly known — grow just as soon as the bulbs are planted. Start them now for a wintertime centerpiece that signals spring’s faithful return. Choose a container (3 to 4 inches deep), spread an inch or two of pebbles along the bottom of it, then position the bulbs on the pebbles, pointy ends up. Add more pebbles to fill gaps and cover bulbs to the shoulders, then add water until it reaches the base of the bulbs. Check the water level daily, and when you notice roots, move the container to a sunny window. Once they flower (3 to 4 weeks), move them to a cool spot with indirect light. Enjoy.  OH


To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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