October is the ideal time to divide and split perennials and put in new plants. The soil will be warm from summer, damp from the rain enabling plants to root well and settle in over winter. It’s also a good time, early in the month, to turf lawns or seed new lawns.
There are shrubs in flower in October including the Yucca. They have to be treated with caution as they have needle sharp tips to the sword like leaves – I cut each tip off to prevent injury. Yuccas need a well drained soil in shelter. They are statuesque plants and the tall spires of white bell shaped flowers stay on for a long time. Good for back of border and in a courtyard garden.
Abelia grandiflora with tiny scented flowers may well still be in flower. Semi evergreen up to 1.5m tall it does well in a mixed shrub border in ordinary soil and can be cut back in spring.
A pretty small tree with coloured foliage is the Forest Pansy or Cercis Canadensis. This deciduous tree has purple leaves in summer but in autumn they turn rich red or crimson. Tiny flowers in spring and it likes a moisture retentive but well drained soil in sun or light shade.
Acers also have superb foliage in autumn whatever the variety. These trees can get to 3m in time but are generally suitable for smaller gardens provided you can provide shelter from wind and early morning sun which will damage the tender new leaves. They hate clay soils and do best in loamy well drained soils.
This time of year I plant up pots for winter interest to look at from the patio window. I have pots with Primulas in flower and already planted with spring bulbs beneath. I remove the top 5cms of compost, add new John Innes No3 compost and a general purpose fertilizer then watch the daffodils, tulips and snowdrops emerge over winter. Think about getting a new pot and putting in an evergreen Euonymus Silver Queen or White Spire in the middle. Both have green and cream evergreen leaves and can be clipped to shape. Around the base put some Tete a Tete daffodils, crocuses and Iris reticulata bulbs. Then pop in a few winter pansies for colour from now until spring. Then take out the pansies, top up with John Innes No3 compost and plant some tumbling annuals for summer colour.