Is it all over in the October garden?
Its October. Everything in the garden needs to be tidied away, cut back and neatened. It's all over, surely? Dont we need to see bare soil and pruned back stems? Not true, and definitely not the latter if you care about minibeasts that love to root around the stems and seeds that autumn brings. There's so much happening outdoors, it would be a shame to miss it. Especially as we're all set for an Indian summer.
We Brits are often prepared to let the glory of autumn slip away without even a glance.
Asters, or Michaelmas daisies, are looking amazing now October is here.
What's looking great in October?
for example (above). They are just peaking, so we should learn something from them about colour and contrast. On a grey, cloudy day the vibrant purples, mauves and deep magenta pinks of Michaelmas daisies stand out like blazing fires on bonfire night. During the mild weather we are currently enjoying, Asters are smothered in bees, hoverflies and even butterflies. They provide vital fodder which could make the difference between life and death for small creatures.
The tall blue spires of Salvias keep on coming throughout autumn until hard frosts will send them into hibernation mode.
Then there are Salvias
(above). Did you know there are over 500 different varieties? Youll find that they are still flowering their socks off, with tall flower spires of deep blue, purple and even pinks and reds during October. Vertical accent and colour in October, what more could you wish for? Theyll go on and on until Jack Frost
smothers them with his shivering mantle.
Hydrangea macrantha 'Miss Saori' is an award-winning variety of this beautiful garden shrub. Once the flowers are over, the flowerheads are best left on the plant throughout winter.
(above), are another glory of the autumn season. Dozens of different types, each with their own distinctive flowers in varying tints of pinks, reds, blues and even white. They continue to flower for weeks, then stand proudly through the winter, giving structure and form and reminding us of their flowering, seasonal glory.
Many Helianthus, or sunflowers, are at their best in autumn when they reach their full height and flower power. A splash of yellow is highly uplifting in autumn, especially against a blue, blue sky!
And the vibrant yellows of tall, stately wonders including Rudbeckia
. Those sunny characters that make gardens sparkle all through the autumn. Who would want to miss the swathes of gold swaying in the October breeze?
Lower level stars
Beneath all these stately wonders are ground covering glorious marvels including hardy geraniums
such as G. Rozanne with its vibrant blue blooms and the delicate yet profuse daisy flowers of the aptly named Erigeron
Erigeron 'Profusion' is aptly named. It flowers all summer, then keeps spreading and flowering through the autumn until ice stops it in its tracks.
These, and many more, valuable low-growing perennials will keep flowering for many weeks to come. Indeed, many gardeners find October to be their most rewarding month of the year as the muted light makes for brilliant colours.
The berry best of the season
Its not only flowers that bring a touch of sheer magic to autumn. Berries are just as awe-inspiring. Callicarpa Profusion
has the most amazing purple spheres of seasonal warmth. The berries stay on bare branches once leaves have fallen and this shrub is then at its very best throughout the season until birds enjoy a purple feast of kings.
The purple berries of Callicarpa 'Profusion' are almost too good to be true!
Look in the hedgerows and you will soon find Viburnum opulus
, commonly known as the guelder rose tree. It is clothed in luscious red berries right now and bears testament to the beauty of nature during autumn mists when it shines like a beacon.
There's no mistaking Viburnum opulus when it is smothered in juicy red autumn berries
Then there are Hawthorn trees which seem to have more red berries than usual this year. A combination of hot, dry weather followed by a mild start to autumn. Or some say its a prediction of snow to come in winter.
Whatever the forecast for the months to come, never forget to enjoy the great outdoors NOW! Its a brilliant time in the garden, so make the most of everything that October has to offer.
Enjoy the autumn, there are berries, flowers and leaves to marvel over.