Autumn Tints in October

Posted By Janet on Oct 1, 2018 |

With one of the driest summer of recent years this has not been great for gardeners. If you do want to plant anything out, firstly dig a hole at least 50% deeper and wider than the pot. Incorporate a lot of well rotted manure into the base of the hole and all the back fill soil. This will act as a sponge to retain moisture in the dry soil. Make sure the plant has been standing in water for at least 2 hours to soak the compost and never plant out if the plant compost is dry. When planting I put half a watering can of water in the base of the hole then backfill gradually, adding lots more water as I go. Firm the soil down and add another can of water on the top to settle the soil.

Plants that do well in October include Cyclamen hederifolium. These autumn flowering cyclamen are hardy and like a sunny dry spot around shrubs and do not like heavy clay soil. They also do well in pots where the white marbled green foliage looks stunning all winter. Another bulb that does well in pots is the Nerine with it’s exotic pink flowers late in autumn. Again, they need well drained soil and a light dry soil by a wall would be ideal provided that they are not shaded by larger plants.


Crab apples or Malus are in full fruit now with many keeping their tiny apples all winter. You get blossom in spring and coloured fruit in autumn on small trees. The variety Golden Hornet has bright yellow apples, Harry Baker has pink flowers and large red fruit which are good for Crab Apple jelly. John Downie has white flowers and two toned red/orange fruits also good for jelly. All are self fertile so they do not need another variety to pollinate the flowers, unlike some apples. Crab Apples are a good pollinator for apple trees so having one in the garden on a dwarfing rootstock (M9 or M26 for a small tree) is ideal.


This year my Star Jasmine or Trachelospermum jasminoides, has had flowers in summer and the glossy evergreen leaves have already started to turn red. Last winter it stayed red all winter, brightening up the garden. My Acers in pots have also turned to tints of orange, red and yellow.


October is the time to finish harvesting tomatoes. Bring green ones indoors to ripen in the heat. Squashes and pumpkins should be ready to store too before any frost arrives. This year my runner beans will have finished early but sometimes they last into October. Pick them and cut the plants down to a stump. Leave them in the soil and they may well re-sprout next spring as mine did this year. Re seed any bare patches of grass after scarifying the soil, adding some compost, then sowing the seed and water in well.