native ashAs our gardens begin to show the effects of the summer heat and now the cooler night temperatures, plants turn from lush greens to the colors of Fall – gorgeous umber and sepia tones, goldenrod and red. Petals drop, leaves fade and the graceful lines of plant structure emerge. The pattern of branch formations are finally visible and the striking textures of various bark that was hidden all Summer is now on display.

Weather can be highly variable this month. We can expect our first night frosts by mid month but these last weeks have been a glorious Indian summer with warm days and just a scattering of rain to freshen up the garden. Look for a pink tinge in the morning sky as this often means rain is on it’s way but a little moisture really makes for a perfect time to work the garden.

Here are some tips on gardening in October:

Pick a bouquet of branches and spent grasses, dried seedpods or evergreens to bring indoors.
Harvest late apples, pears, pumpkins or quince. Once the frosts come they will be damaged. Gather walnuts as well and store in a warm dry spot until heady to crack.
One last round of weeding will go a long way toward easing Spring clean up.
This is a great time of year to mulch with a compost, manure or composted bark to clean up beds and keep down weeds over the winter.
Continue planting bulbs for spring and summer blooms.
Its still perfectly fine to plant perennials now and since the rains are coming it will be much less work for you.
Start ground covers so they can spread out over the winter and come up full and fresh in the spring.
Cut back non shrub roses to protect from winter winds.
Move potted containers to a protected location where they will not fill with water and crack.
There is still time to seed some cover crops if planted early in the month. Cover crops in veggie patches help to keep soil in beds, they fix nitrogen, keep down weeds and give you something to look at besides bare dirt all winter long.
Pot up bulbs like narcissus and amaryllis to force for the holidays.
Bring in tender house plants that have spent the summer on the patio. Check for pests hitchiking indoors and give them a nice warm shower to clean leaves before the move inside.