Violet Lobularia maritima flowers, known as Alyssum maritimum, s

It will be nice to finally see coastal temperatures remaining under 80 degrees in November in our cold hardiness Zone 9b. I’ve been up in cold hardiness Zone 4b in Lake City, Colo., where temperatures ranged from 18° F nighttime to 55° F daytime, snow fell to a depth of 6-12”, and gardens were already tucked under mulch until next spring. Now I am in Loveland, Colo., in cold hardiness Zone 5b, where temperatures are ranging from 36° F nighttime to 75° F daytime. The fall color has been spectacular with the brilliant yellows of aspen (Populus tremuloides), thornless honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) and linden (Tilia chordata), the two-toned burgundy/yellow of green ashes (Fraxinus americana), and the reds of maples (red, silver), all popular ornamental plantings along the residential streets here.

Fall color starts as days grow shorter and nights grow longer; these daylight changes trigger biochemical changes in the leaves in which chlorophyll production decreases and eventually stops, allowing for the pigments of carotenoids and anthocyanins to be unmasked and show their colors of yellow, orange and red. Temperature, rainfall and food supply also influence the fall color onset with more spectacular hues in times of warm, sunny days and cool nights, adequate rainfall, and nutrients. For our newcomers to the Georgia coast, fall color does occur, but usually in late November through January! It can be found in the native trees including sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), with leaves turning to a combination of shades of yellow, red, and burgundy, pignut hickory (Carya glabra) with leaves of brilliant yellow, bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) with soft needle-like leaves of brilliant coppery red, and red maples (Acer rubrum) with leaves of yellow, orange or red.

There is no decrease in activity in the November coastal garden. Weeds will continue to grow, simply switching from summer to winter species. The cooling temperatures encourage the planting of the fall vegetable garden. Back in mid-October, I planted seeds of lettuce, beet, snow peas, carrots and both sweet and bunching onions. I planted plugs of collards, broccoli and kale. I will continue planting with seeds and small plants of herbs such as cilantro, parsley, chives and arugula, as well as additional seed plantings of lettuce, carrots and kale throughout the winter months. It’s also a good time of year to prepare a bed for strawberry plants. I still need to build a simple trellis to support the Cumberland black raspberry plants (a floricane fruiting variety for summertime bearing) that were started from bare root earlier this summer and allowed to sprawl on the ground during the growing season. The plants will bear fruit next year on these canes.

November is also a great time to replant those summer containers with a wonderful selection of cool season flowering annuals. Most do best in full sun. Consider sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), Garden Pinks (Dianthus sp.), pansies, violets, and Johnny Jump ups (Viola sp), snapdragon, cyclamen, flowering cabbage and kale, nemesia (Nemesia capensis, N. caerula, N fruticans, all species that are slightly more frost tolerant down to 32° F), edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus), and flowering stock (Mathiola incana). Swiss Chard Bright Lights (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) and Purple Mustard (Brassica juncea) are not only good to eat but also make colorful plantings. Other November gardening chores include:

• Divide or separate overgrown perennials and crowded bulbs. This will allow the establishment of new roots that will continue to grow throughout the winter. You can share any extras with neighbors and friends. Plant new bulbs.

• Apply dormant oil to control scale insect problems. This can be safely applied in the cooler temperatures.

• Turn off the garden irrigation system or reprogram it for less frequency because plants will require less supplemental watering.

• Walk around to see what things you would like to see changed, which plants should be removed or introduced next spring. Do you need more raised beds or perhaps want to start a compost pile? Make notes in a gardening journal so that you don’t forget.