October days are short but magical with dramatic changes in the garden every day. It’s harvest time.
There are fruit and vegetables for us, berries for our wild birds, seeds for small mammals and plenty of nectar for insects. The leaves on our deciduous trees turn shades of buttery yellow, mellow orange and vibrant red before falling to the ground. I like to make the most of the autumn colour whenever I can because things change quickly. Trees are often stripped of berries in a few hours by hungry birds and sudden cold snaps can cause leaves to fall overnight. I love October in the garden… to me this month always seems to fly by.
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UK Weather in October
We’ve had a mild start to October 2023 with warm days and nights and that’s likely to continue for a while. We can expect much cooler days soon with maximum daytime temperatures of around 13 ̊C.
At night the temperature falls slowly reaching just 5 ̊C or 6 ̊C by dawn.
We usually have our first frosts at the beginning of October, and although that didn’t happen all parts of the UK can expect at least a couple of frosty days this month. Days are much shorter and even on clear sunny days the sun sets early. We can expect just 90 hours on sunshine this month which is less than half the sunshine we see in July.
Low pressure weather systems bring plenty of rain showers and occasionally heavy downpours. On average there are 15 days in October with some rainfall. Occasionally blasts of Arctic air reduce temperatures and send snow falls to the high ground in Scotland and the north east.
October in the Garden.
October is great for planting container grown trees and shrubs, biennials and perennials. Bare root plants are also usually available to buy now in plant nurseries and good garden centres. As long as the ground is not frozen it should be easy to work and your new plants will have several months to establish a good root system before they burst into full leaf and flower next spring.
- Harvest fruit and vegetables.
- Collect and save seed as it becomes ripe. Leave some seed heads on for winter.
- Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs such as Buddleja, Cornus and Roses.
- Dig over empty areas and plant trees, shrubs and perennials.
- Plant new evergreen hedges. Trim established evergreen hedges.
In the greenhouse:
- Sow the seeds of hardy annuals such as Sweet Peas for early flowering next year. For the longest flowering period save half the seeds for sowing in spring.
- Pot up some herbs such as Parsley for use in your kitchen over winter.
- Lift tender plants and keep them in a frost free greenhouse over winter.
- Plant spring flowering bulbs such as alliums, lily and tulip bulbs.
- Leave some seed heads on your more sturdy plants throughout autumn and winter to provide seeds for wild birds.
- Leave some leaves and twigs in a quiet dry place such as under a hedge to provide shelter for hedgehogs and other small mammals.