October is the month to start preparing the garden for the onset of winter. Over the last few mild years the summer hanging baskets have lasted well into October. However they start getting overgrown and lacking in flowers at this time of year so I remove any plants that I want to keep for next year (basket Fuchsias etc.), pot them up and put them in the cold frame.

As I have now converted the garden to perennial planting I do not now have the annual chore of taking out the summer annuals and replacing with winter bedding. I leave most of the garden plants outside in the winter even if they are listed as borderline hardy. It just takes too much time and space to lift them all and store over winter and most survive if the conditions are not too harsh. I have already taken cuttings of some of the garden plants so if I lose a few these will be available as replacements. I lift and store a few plants that I know will not survive the winter or those that have performed particularly well. This year the Marguerittes and Gazanias have done very well and as I have not got any cuttings these will be lifted and put in the cold frame. If we get a really cold spell I might move them into the greenhouse but there is so little space in there in winter that this is only a temporary measure until it warms up again.

The other main job in October is trying to keep the garden tidy as the leaves drop and plants start to die back. I cover the small pond with netting to stop it getting clogged by falling leaves. I sweep the leaves off the grass but leave them in the borders as they provide shelter for insects and when they rot down are a good source of organic material for the soil. I do not do too much pruning in autumn but try just to keep the garden from looking overgrown. Some people shut their back door and forget about the garden in winter but if you do that in England you lose about 6 months of the year which is a shame as there are often good days in winter when the garden can still be appreciated. There are also some plants which are at their best in winter with either flowers or brightly coloured stems/bark etc. The conifers and evergreen shrubs can also be appreciated most in winter as they are not hidden by lots of other plants.

Fuchsia microphylla in flower in November. This Fuchsia is covered in tiny flowers (about 1 cm long) and gives a lovely show in late summer/autumn. It also appears to be very hardy and I treat it like any other hardy Fuchsia

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