October in The Garden

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

October … the season of mellow fruitfulness! When I was a girly, we always had our Harvest Festival in October, and I can still remember attending marvellous services (some of the best hymns to sing and play), followed by a magnificent Harvest Supper! The altar in church was surrounded with produce and traditional bread baked in the shape of a wheat sheaf, and bathed in candlelight. It is truly a time to give thanks for the good things in our lives, and to appreciate all the bounty that the land around us provides. I am finding that, as I get older, just taking a few minutes each day to appreciate both the people and landscape all around is beneficial to clear thinking and a positive mental outlook. Merely taking the time to share a smile or a ‘hello’ with someone can make such a difference, especially to those who live alone. Perhaps we should use the opportunity of this slightly quieter time of year to catch up with friends, or tap on the neighbour’s door to see if they are alright (with the appropriate social distancing of course!)?

But back to gardening. Hopefully the weather will be kind so that all those last minute jobs can be attended to before the clocks change later this month.

Plant of the month – Conifers Conifers are hardy evergreen trees and shrubs that suit any garden. According to a HTA survey, almost a third of garden owners have a conifer, so they are more popular than you might think. Before you say ‘Nooooo’, they come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and textures, and the colour can be anything from yellow or light green through to dark green, blue, grey and even bronze and purple. Yew, thuja, gingko, juniper and Chamaecyparis are all good varieties. Use them as a green backdrop for flowering plants, or as standalone structures to add height in the garden. Dwarf conifers are great for containers and larger shrubs and trees make good hedging (although personally I would avoid Lleylandii) or garden features. They also have interest in the seed bearing cones that appear through the summer and into the winter. They are happy in any soil, in a sunny or shady site, but they don’t like compacted soil or to be waterlogged. Make sure to water newly established plants, but mature plants need little maintenance.


  • Finish planting evergreen shrubs. Mulching will help them to survive the winter too.

  • Plant new climbers.

  • Plant new perennials.

  • Plant tulip and lily bulbs. We have a great range of spring-flowering bulbs now in stock.

  • Empty and clean summer hanging baskets, and refill with pansies or violas, ivy, cyclamen etc for winter colour. We have locally grown autumn bedding in stock now.

  • Divide overgrown perennials. Two forks back to back in the middle of the clump and then prised apart works really well.

  • Lift and store dahlias, gladioli and summer flowering bulbs. Allowing dahlias to stand ‘upside-down’ to dry out will help them not to rot off during the winter.

  • Cut down the dying tops of perennial vegetables.

  • Lift and divide rhubarb. Cover with a mulch to protect the crown during the winter.

  • Rake up fallen leaves, and pile them up to make leafmould, or stuff into bags at the back of the compost heap. Remember to make a few holes in the bag first to let air in and water out!

  • Continue clearing up the garden, and burn or bin debris, especially burn any that shows signs of fungal infection, for example rose leaves with blackspot.

  • Dig over empty areas of soil. I find it helpful to cover with old carpet/cardboard or recycled black plastic to keep weeds down and the soil will warm up much more quickly in the spring. Alternatively, consider sowing a green manure. Green manures are fast-growing plants sown to cover bare soil. Often used in the vegetable garden, their foliage smothers weeds and their roots prevent soil erosion. When dug into the ground while still green (hence the name), they return valuable nutrients to the soil and improve soil structure.

  • Tidy ponds and remove pumps for the Winter.


  • Finish planting spring bedding.

  • Finish planting spring flowering bulbs.


  • Prepare for planting bare-rooted stock next month.

  • Make early sowing of broad beans for next year.

  • Sow sweet peas for next year under cover.

King Street, Colyton, Devon EX24 6PD Email: info@gardenshopcolyton.co.uk Tel: 01297 551113 Mobile: 07805 956157

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