October is a new season!

October is the start of a new season in the garden. It’s a month when we see the start of the autumn colours, with plenty of late flowering plants providing an array of glorious hues. There is still plenty of time to harvest vegetables and pick fruit.

Time to...


When you are planning for next year, we recommend that you take photos of your garden, to identify which areas could do with improvement. Gardens continuously change as they age and will benefit from regularly updating with new plants to keep them looking fresh. Photos also provide a reminder of where herbaceous plants are sited – these will die back in the winter so to prevent damage it’s important to know where they are when digging or hoeing your borders. Photos also provide a visual aide memoire for previously planted bulbs.


Autumn is the best time to plant as the soil is still warm from the summer and combined with the seasonal rain, the soil is perfect. As trees and deciduous shrubs have no new leaf growth plants don’t lose water through transpiration and the roots are ready to grow and will be forming a good root system before next spring or perhaps next year’s dry summer! Use a good mulch of organic matter around the plant and some bonemeal, a slow-release fertiliser, that helps root establishment. Or consider mycorrhizal feed, a natural forming fungus that helps roots uptake nutrients from soil, stimulating growth.


Prune late flowering climbing roses by removing old stems, any damaged or crossing stems, cutting them back to a healthy leaf. Create buds in a neat framework by tying into a trellis or wires to protect them from winter winds.

Japanese Maple

Glorious shades of leaves

Towards the end of October with cooler nights leaves turn shades of bright red, orange and yellow, plus the berries and fruits will provide extra colours and interest. Some highlights include Japanese maples, which have the most vibrant colours after warm days, cold nights, and a little rain. Acers’ stunning leaves change through every shade of orange, red and yellow before falling. Pyracantha is a prickly evergreen shrub, grown freestanding or trained against a wall or fence and is also good in a mixed hedge. It produces red, orange and yellow berries which last well into winter.


October plants continue to delight

Crab Apple is one of the best sized trees for a smaller garden, with lovely spring blossom, and colourful fruit and leaves in autumn before they fall. Other highlights include Abelia, Caryopteris, Hardy Fuchsias, Ceratostigma, whilst berries and fruits on Callicarpa, Chaenomeles, Cotoneasters and Hypericum Miracle, all produce stunning autumnal shades and shapes. Fabulous herbaceous perennials at this time of year include Actaea, Japanese anemones, Asters, Penstemon and Rudbeckias. Continue to deadhead plants like Dahlias and they will reward you by flowering until the first frosts.
Caryopteris                                                                        Crab Apple (flowers)

Recycle your leaves

As leaves fall rake them up and use them to make your own leaf mould. Store them in large bin bags or compost bins and within a year or two this will provide a rich organic compost that ultimately feeds the soil and then the plants.
Clear up fallen and diseased leaves under roses to help prevent black spot from over-wintering, as spores can bounce back onto the plants after winter rain. We recommend binning or burning these leaves.

Luscious lawns

Lawns have made a miraculous recovery since the drought. Some of our horticulturists are noticing that their old tufty grass has died in the heat, but been replaced by luscious new growth, with their lawns looking better than ever. Now is a really good time to aerate your lawn. Using a garden fork, make holes at least 3-4” / 8-10cm deep, to help prevent compaction and winter waterlogging. Rake away any thatch and repair any dead patches and straighten and repair lawn edges, bumps, and hollows. Your lawn will benefit now from an autumn lawn feed.

Time to turf and make your own compost

If you want an instant lawn, October is a good time to lay turf. Soil and weather conditions allow for good root establishment. This is also the time of year to create or buy a compost bin to utilise all the green waste generated by garden pruning and tidying. To make successful compost you need beneficial bacteria, moisture and natural ingredients including weeds, fallen leaves, lawn mowings, soft hedge clippings, teabags, and potato peelings. You can also use shredded paper and cardboard, but avoid any diseased material, woody stems and perennial weeds. Within a year you should have a supply of organic compost ready to mulch your plant borders.


October is the month to plant spring cabbages and over-wintering onion sets and also to plant out garlic. In the greenhouse, once tomatoes have cleared, sow winter lettuce, baby spinach leaves, early carrots, corn salad and spring onions for out of season crops.


Colourful containers

Plant up containers using pansies, violas, cyclamen, heathers, perennial grasses, phormiums with colourful foliage or Nandinias and Leucothoes, or you could use evergreen shrubs. Try hellebores for dramatic spring colours and shapes and interplant these with spring bulbs to provide as much winter spring interest as possible. You can also plant up winter hanging baskets with pansies, violas, bulbs, grasses, cyclamen and coloured ivy cascading over the edges.

Plant now for spring colour

The season for planting spring flowering bulbs has started and can bring colour to your garden from January to May. Hyacinths provide beautiful winter flowers and a lovely fragrance. Prepared Hyacinth bulbs are planted in October and will flower for Christmas or try the sweetly scented Narcissus paperwhite.

Crocus                                                                                                   Hyacinth

Daffodils signal the arrival of spring

Daffodils are a favourite with most gardeners, producing bright flowers in every shade of yellow. Their arrival means that spring is almost here. They look superb in pots or containers, and they are ideal for naturalising in the garden giving years of colour.
The botanical name for daffodils is Narcissus, a name from Greek mythology, from a youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. This plant has a fascinating history and was introduced into gardens about 300 BC. It originated in areas of Europe, especially Spain and Portugal and North America and could be found in meadows and woodland. It was brought to Britain by the Romans, who believed it had medicinal properties and became increasingly popular after the 16th Century. By the 19th Century it was an important commercial crop resulting in thousands of different cultivars. When grown in tubs, our horticulturist has found that his daffodil bulbs are not dug up by squirrels or eaten by mice, unlike other bulbs!
Crocus also need to be planted now. These are available in a wide range of colours – white, yellow, orange, or purple. Crocus are native to Southern Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa and are usually found in woodlands and meadows, so ideal to plant under deciduous trees, shrubs, or in clumps in the lawn.
Next month is the time to plant tulips, but we suggest you buy them earlier to get the best selection, as once they’re gone, we won’t be getting any more in stock.

And winter is approaching

Remember October can start with warm and pleasant weather, but by the end it can really feel like winter is on its way, so be prepared and make sure you have some horticultural fleece at the ready to provide protection for your tender plants.
If you have any gardening questions, however small or large, Van Hage is always here to help.

Until next time, enjoy your garden!
Best wishes,
The Van Hage Team