Whatever the weather, there are still routine jobs to be undertaken. One of the more urgent for this month, is to get on with planting spring bulbs; while the soil is still warm, they will, given some moisture, by watering if necessary, quickly develop a good root system.

Tulips can be the latest planted and can go in up to the end of exception November. If you are planning to grow bulbs in containers, it is wise to use fresh bulb fibre or compost; bear in mind that containers can get frozen solid in winters like we had last year and even hardy subjects like daffodils can be damaged, so make sure the pots are well insulated or in a cold greenhouse through the worst of the weather. Bulbs for forcing into flower early (e.g. treated hyacinths or “Paper White” narcissi) usually require a period of darkness and cold, before being brought into the house; darkness is not too difficult to arrange, but low temperatures are not so easy in the kind of autumns we seem to had in most recent years.

Commercial growers may have refrigerated stores, but most of us have to make do with choosing the coldest spot in the garden. If, in order to keep them in the dark you put the bulbs into a bag of some sort, such as a bin-liner, remember that polythene bags do not “breathe” and excessive condensation can damage the bulb foliage or even encourage botrytis (grey mould), so something such as a paper potato sack may be better.

Strawberry plants for fruiting next summer should be planted by the end of this month to, like bulbs, take advantage of warm soil conditions to encourage new root growth.

If recent years are anything to go by it is unlikely that we shall have much frost before the end of October and herbaceous borders may well go on flowering well into November, albeit no longer looking their best. Be careful with frost tender subjects such as dahlias, which are enjoying a return to popularity; remember that unless they are planted deeply, low temperatures will damage the tubers. It is as well to lift them and dry them off as soon as they finish flowering and keep them in a frost free, cool, dry place for the winter; make sure the hollow stems do not hold water (turn them upside down if necessary), as this can be the starting point for fungal or bacterial rots.

Lawns and hedges are the backbone of many gardens; the regular trimming of hedges can be completed now and new hedging planted from the end of the month. Lawns should not be cut so short in the autumn (assuming they have recovered from the drought), so raise the mower blade a notch or two; they can also be scarified or raked to remove “thatch” and runners of creeping weeds and treated with a slow release autumn fertilizer.

If you have a rock garden, bear in mind that most alpine plants grow above the tree line in their natural habitats and therefore don’t like to be covered by falling leaves from trees, in fact they don’t like to be covered by anything other than possibly snow; this may be difficult to arrange some areas, unless of course we have a winter like last year.

Roses can still be troubled by black-spot at this time of year as humidity increases; not only is it unsightly and debilitating for the plants, but the disease carries over to next season on fallen leaves. As well as continuing a spraying programme, unless you are opposed to that, remember to pick up as much dead leaf material as possible and ideally burn it. If you put it on the compost heap, it must be one that gets hot enough to destroy fungal spores. It is worth pruning long shoots from shrub roses now so that they do not get rocked about too badly in autumn gales.

New shrubs and trees from containers should be planted now, but bare-rooted stock will not be available until after the leaves have fallen.

This is the season of flower shows; fruit, flowers and vegetables should be harvested as and when ready. If you are dissatisfied with the results from your garden, see if you can talk to the people that win prizes at local shows and get some useful tips from them, as these will be based on experience in local conditions. You should be planting over-wintered vegetables, such as cabbages, shallots and onion sets from now on and even considering winter digging to give you a good seedbed for the spring.

If you have ponds and water gardens, remember to cover them with netting if possible to prevent falling leaves from entering the water; these use up oxygen in the decaying process and deprive fish and other pond life of this essential.