Now is the peak time for harvesting various fruit and vegetable crops and possibly entering them in local Flower Shows; when you have picked your apples and pears, store them in a dry, cool place, maybe in the garden shed, ideally laid on a bed of straw and go over them occasionally, removing diseased fruit as these may pass on their infection to adjoining ones; also look out for rodents that may think you have laid in a store of food to see them through the winter. Depending on the variety, it is possible to keep apples and pears right through until early spring, although pears are more difficult to keep in good condition than apples.

I said in September that you should plant bulbs but now is the time to dig up half-hardy summer flowering bulbs such as Gladioli; cut off their yellowing foliage and lift, clean and store the corms; Dahlias can be similarly treated, but make sure their hollow stems are not left containing water, as this may cause them to rot. Tulips should be planted from now onwards.

If you have herbaceous borders that seem in need of renovation, as the plants die back, label them with their name (height and colour also, if you feel that you are not sufficiently familiar with name alone) and dig them up, dividing clumps if necessary; this can be done using two forks, back to back. Dig over and manure the ground, carefully remove any perennial weeds such as Couch grass and Bindweed and replace the plants; the soil temperature should be still high enough to get some new root formation before winter.

New hedges planted last spring, should be cut back fairly hard in their first autumn to encourage them to thicken up at the base when re-growth starts next spring. Resist the temptation to leave them alone because they look taller. With a good mulch and some fertilizer, they will soon make up the reduction in height.

In the vegetable garden, lifting and storing root crops is a practice that used to be commonplace but prior to last year, with milder winters, many of us simply left things where they were until required but last winter may have suggested that it is not always advisable to do so. One drawback with leaving them in situ can be, that if you are on heavier soils where the little black Keeled- slug is a problem, it can do untold damage to a lot of the underground parts of plants. If you are plagued with this particular pest, a biological control is available for them; you buy a culture of a parasitic nematode and add it to the infected soil area and the little worms hatch out and eat the slugs from the inside outwards.

This is probably dependant on soil temperature, so check with the supplier what temperature is the optimum for nematode activity.

October is an excellent time for planting trees, shrubs and climbers from containers; if of course, you are planting bare-rooted stock then these are unlikely to be available until November, by which time, their leaves should have fallen and they can be lifted from the nursery beds.  Tender plants that have spent the summer in pots on the patio, need to go into the greenhouse soon, as we occasionally have a damaging frost after a sunny autumn day.

Agapanthus are deservedly popular these days; they are derived from a few species that occur naturally in Southern Africa; from the Western Cape in the south to the mountainous regions south of the grey greasy Limpopo River in the north-east. They occur from sea level up to two thousand metres above it. They may be deciduous or evergreen; the deciduous species grow in areas that have dry winters and rain in summer; the evergreens come from areas where it rains during the winter or throughout the year. In both cases, the main flowering season is in mid-summer, with us, usually July, August and into September.

In our climate, the evergreen plants need temperatures above freezing, but below 8° C and light in the winter to perform well and therefore are suited to containers which can be put into a cold glasshouse when winter arrives. Deciduous plants need no light in the winter of course but still need to get no warmer than 8°C if at all possible.
Deciduous plants are therefore a better bet for open ground than are evergreens. If you have recently bought a plant and are not sure if it is deciduous, look at it in October and see if it’s foliage is dying off, if it isn’t it’s probably evergreen. Agapanthus are not fussy about soil pH but do need good drainage.

People sometimes have mistaken ideas about them (often the fault of the gardening press; according to Dick Fulcher of Pine Cottage Plants, who holds the National Collection, this also includes most of the BBC Gardener’s World presenters). They often suggest that when in containers, plants need to be pot-bound to flower well but ideally they should be re-potted into the next size up pot immediately after flowering, the plant will then form new roots before winter and perform well next year.

Lawn cutting, which has not been a major priority in this dry summer, although they have grown recently, should not be too short from now on.

Roses can be lightly pruned to stop winds from rocking them and spraying for black-spot may still be necessary.