When we lived in San Francisco, we never had to worry much about bringing plants indoors in the wintertime. There, the temperature never, or nearly never, went down to freezing, and even light frost was almost unheard of. This will be our 8th winter in Saint-Aignan, and I'm still getting used to the difference.
Here in Saint-Aignan, we don't have many hard freezes, but it really depends on the year. Rosemary and thyme do fine outdoors all winter. Cabbages survive the winter months in people's gardens. The lawn stays green, as does the hedge. In fact, this November has been mild so far, but pretty wet. This morning, for example, the temperature is in the high 40s F (9ºC) and it's drizzling.
But you never know. One year back in the 1980s, we're told, the big bay laurel hedge around our property froze all the way to the ground. The dead branches had to be cut off. Then the hedge slowly grew back from the roots, which had survived. It took years. I would hate to see that happen again.
Our big planter boxes of geraniums were outdoors until a couple of days ago. Last week we moved them under the roof of the balcony, out of the rain, to let them dry out some. That way, they're not so heavy. And then we moved them to our little glassed-in porch downstairs. We had the sliding glass doors installed across the front porch 5 or 6 years ago. Before that, it was completely open to the cold air.
Now we have a good place to keep potted plants that we set out in spring and bring back inside in autumn. Jade, kalenchoe, other succulents, geraniums, and so on all overwinter behind glass doors, where the temperature never falls much below 5ºC, or 40ºF.
When the plants come in, you really feel like you are pulling the covers up around your ears for the winter. The hours of daylight diminish daily, and it will be that way for another month now. I really hope the geraniums will continue to flower on the front porch. Those red blossoms are a reminder of brighter seasons.