Autumn’s in full swing, meaning the temperatures are a little cooler and the rains are back in force. You’ll have seen a lot of your bedding plants are still giving colour a go, but there’s plenty more to get growing and enjoying this season.
As ever, if you’d rather read about allotments and the best plants for your non-garden patch, you can read about October Allotments here. If not, let’s do it!
Sometimes white, sometimes pink, sometimes red but always dainty dainty, Camellia are great ornamental shrubs for a splash of late- or early-year colour depending on the variety and when you plant them. Plant with acidic/ericaceous compost in a mid-size pot to help keep the acid levels right, and plant it in a moderately shady spot. They can grow 3-5m wide, so give them space to grow into!
If you plant in the ground, use the same ericaceous compost but be sure to water with rainwater too – it’s slightly acidic you know.
Bursting with spring and summer colour, Rhododendrons are brilliant for butterflies and bees with their huge and bountiful flowers. If you’ve seen any rhododendrons in your area this year, that means you’ll be reasonably safe planting them in the ground, otherwise start with a container until the plant’s good and established – they’re acid lovers just like the camellia above.
Plant them relatively close to the surface – cover the roots but don’t bury them 2 feet down. And stick to partial shade unless it’s a ‘dwarf alpine species’ which will take all the sun you give it.
If you’d like to read all about rhododendrons and their sisters azaleas, check out this complete guide to rhododendrons!
If ‘winter interest’ sounds intriguing to you then Helleborus should be right up your garden path. Late-flowering, to the point that they’ll likely arrive flowering if you choose the right species, these ‘winter roses’ are as hardy as they come and well suited to the UK’s climate. Keep them well-drained, in a shady spot away from midday sun, and you can let these ones get a bit alkali so any multi-purpose compost should suit them fine.
If they’re struggling in a flowerbed, transfer them to a pot with mushroom compost. Again, make sure there’s drainage to stop the roots from drowning.
A bit of a cheat as this is talking about every bulb you could plant for spring, but the main suspects are Alliums, Tulips, Crocus and Daffodils. Each has slightly different planting depth requirements and eventual heights, which means you can get really creative and plant a bulb lasagne for a rotating series of flowers in one single pot or bed (the pot is easier for the lasagne technique).
Get them in the ground to overwinter during the coldest months, and your garden will come alive in spring as each bulb makes its way to the soil surface. Play around with heights, shades and species for a meadow look the wildlife will love.
Great for jams and sauces or stewed as a breakfast topper or dessert filling, rhubarb (rhubarb rhubarb) can keep coming year after year if it’s planted and harvested correctly. Plant now for a harvest in March onwards (once the leaves are massive and the stalks are practically falling over under the weight), in well-draining soil and in the sunniest spot you can find.
Keep slugs and snails away while the plants establish, as they love a bit of fruit and rhubarb is basically nothing but.
Styled as the ultimate superfood  with vitamin C and antioxidants aplenty, blueberries are sweet, gentle and boldly blue. Some even sport red leaves come autumn, another easy way to bring colour into your october garden. Plant in full sun, sheltered from the wind as much as you can to stop the roots being lifted up, with acidic compost and loads of drainage (you can mix in gravel if you’re worried there isn’t enough).
Harvest time will come next May – but gardeners are nothing if not a patient breed!
Like water cress, but as the name suggests this one’s grown on land. Land Cress can be grown for harvest in winter if you grow it under a cloche or fleece. Lots of sun (common among herbs and veg), lots of drainage, and around 15-20cm away from any other plugs. If you’re planting rows, space the rows 30cm apart.
Don’t forget to water them in after you’ve planted them, though this is true for practically everything you’ll ever plant so you probably already knew this.
For flavourful marinades and salad dressing, Marjoram’s a winner. It grows quickly so you could be ready to harvest in little over a month – follow the same instructions as the land cress above (15-20cm apart, sunny, drainage) and you should be good to go.
They even grow flowers in summer, so marjoram has a lot going for it!
If you know your science/latin, you’ll know that alliums and garlic are related – hence if you can plant an allium you can plant a garlic. As tempting as it seems, you probably won’t get very far planting a garlic bought from a supermarket as they come from far afield and could be diseasey, but species bred for Britain will grow great guns as long as you snip off the flowers when they come. To plant, simply break the cloves off your bulbs and plant individually 15cm apart, 2.5cm down.
Water during dry spells when you get to spring, and keep covered with a fleece or netting to keep birds off your precious cloves. Full sun and adequate drainage are key as usual – if water sits around it could rot your growing garlic!