October - Mid-autumn is the time to rake up fallen leaves, trim hedges, prune climbers and cut back perennials. Treat the birds by leaving faded sunflower blooms for them to feed on.


  • Give hedges a final trim to neaten their appearance for the winter
  • Dig up gladioli corms to store until the spring
  • Plant out spring bedding and bulbs
  • Sow sweet peas in posts and overwinter in a cold frame
  • Collect seeds, lay them out to dry and store in envelopes
  • Take tender plants into the greenhouse before it turns cold
  • Empty pots of faded summer bedding and compost them
  • Prune climbing roses, cutting out old stems and training in new shoots
  • Cut back perennials that have now died down

Tip: Make more from your garden

Autumn is a great time to divide perennials. Lift congested clumps and divide them into smaller pieces, discarding any old, unproductive portions. Replant in groups in reconditioned soil.

In the greenhouse

  • Check greenhouse heaters are in working order
  • Moe tender aquatic plants and perennials from summer displays, such as fuchsias and bring into the greenhouse
  • Start watering pots of dormant cyclamens saved from last Christmas
  • Water crops in pots and grow bags more sparingly, but continue to give a weekly feed
  • Look out for pests and treat any that you find
  • Ventilate on warm days, but close vents and doors every evening to trap heat
  • Bring pots of cannas, agapanthus, eucomis and other bulbs under cover before the weather starts to tuner cold
  • Stop watering gloxinias, begonias and achimenes to let their leaves die down completely before storing tubers in dry compost for winter

Tip: Let there be light

As we move into the autumn and the weather gets cooler and the days more dull, reduce or remove greenhouse shading to let as much light in as possible. Wash off shading paint or remove shade netting, then wash the glass inside and out to maximise light levels.

Fruit and vegetables

  • Cover productive herbs, such as basil and parsley, with cloches, or bring potted ones under cover
  • Continue to harvest pears, apples, plums, autumn raspberries and other fruits
  • Stake tall Brussels sprouts to provide support and to stop them blowing over
  • Cut off full trusses of outdoor tomatoes before there’re hit by frost, lay them on greenhouse staging to ripen under cover
  • Wrap grease bands around the trunks of trees to trap the crawling female winter moth
  • Save money on bean seeds by collecting seeds from your favourite plants. Leave a few pods to swell and ripen before picking, allow these to dry, remove the seeds, then store in a cool, dry place
  • Plant out spring cabbages

Tip: Beware of wasps!

Take care when picking fruits, especially if you are allergic to wasp stings. Wasps gorge themselves on windfalls but also search out damaged fruits still hanging on trees. It’s very easy to pick what looks like the perfect apple only to find wasps inside it. Hang wasp traps in fruit trees if necessary.

Around the garden

  • Cut seed heads for indoor display
  • Buy roses, shrubs, fruit trees and hedging to plant over the coming months
  • Bring pots of tender perennials into the greenhouse
  • Buy bulbs for autumn planting
  • Spread netting over ponds or water features to keep leaves out
  • Lay new turf and re-sow bare patches
  • Mow lawns and trim hedges prior to the winter
  • Regularly clear up fallen autumn leaves

Tip: A sunny treat for the birds

Once sunflower blooms have faded they continue to be valuable in the garden, producing large heads of seeds that will feed the birds through the autumn. You can either leave the flowers where they are growing for the birds to find, or when they are fully ripe cut them off and place on bird tables for birds to pick over. Alternatively remove the ripe seeds by hand and add to bird food in hanging feeders.

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Woodlands Nurseries
Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7NJ
Telephone: 015395 67273
Email: sales@woodlandsgardencentre.com

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