Extend Tender Plants
With a little effort you can extend the flowering of annuals and tender perennials. Often the first frost comes and then is followed by several weeks of warm weather. Have old sheets or other fabric available to toss over plantings on frosty nights. Bring container plantings indoors when extensive frost threatens, and you'll get at least a few more weeks of enjoyment.
Plant Early Bulbs
The earliest-flowering bulbs, such as crocus, Iris reticulata, snowdrops, and aconite, should be planted as soon as possible to give them time to develop strong root systems. Later-flowering bulbs, like the late tulips and daffodils, can be planted up through the end of November. Experiment with various color combinations and plant as many bulbs as possible in a mass planting. Maybe this is the year you splurge on a swath of daffodils or a crocus field in the lawn.
Garlic grows and produces best when planted in the fall. Hardneck types are best suited for northern climates, while softneck types are better for warmer regions. Since we straddle both climates, why not try some of each and see which does best for you? Garlic needs well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Plant individual cloves with the pointed end up, spacing them 4 to 6 inches apart and 2 to 3 inches deep. Mulch with straw or shredded leaves.
Clean Up the Vegetable Garden
Remove all dead or dying plants from the vegetable garden, placing disease-free ones on the compost pile and disposing of the rest. Put a layer of compost or well-decomposed manure on the soil and till it in well. Plant a cover crop, such as winter rye, to protect the soil from erosion and choke out annual weeds. Remove stakes and other garden equipment, then clean and store for the winter.
Visit Public Gardens
Explore the possibilities of fall foliage, flowers, and plant forms by visiting nearby botanical gardens and arboreta. Many trees, shrubs, flowers, and ornamental grasses come into their own at this time of year. See how they are used in the landscape at these public spaces, then plan on adding some to your yard, either this fall or next spring.