Answer: Your flower bed sounds lovely! You are right in cutting back your snow carpet after it finishes blooming. Cutting it back will contain the size and keep it from overtaking your other plantings. I'd keep up with the practice. 16 inches is narrow for a bed so you'll need to dig and divide your plants every few years or they will grow wider than their designated spaces in the garden. Hostas and coral bells will grow the fastest, your Autumn Joy will not expand as quickly but will still need to be dug and divided eventually. The flowers of Autumn Joy can be used in dried flower arrangements but they become limp if you cut them while they are still green so they won't work well as fresh cut flowers. Cutting off the flowers won't hurt the plant so don't be afraid to experiment with the flowers. As for winter preparation, wait until the first hard frost kills the tops of your plants and then rake out all of the dead foliage. A mulch over the top of the bed will help protect the roots of your plants. Use something like pine boughs or straw as a mulch and it will be easier to remove in the spring. Failing that, a nice thick pile of dried leaves will serve the same purpose. Best wishes with your beautiful flower bed!
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