Tidy Work Area
Tidy the potting area and tool shed. Toss hopelessly broken and unused items. Find new homes for usable items you no longer need; perhaps a local community garden or school gardening project would appreciate that extra rake. Replace broken handles on tools as needed.
Tune Up Tools
Give your shovels, spades, hoes, pruners, and cultivators a tune-up starting with the metal edges and ending with the handles. If you don't do sharpening, take tools to a hardware store to have the metal edges honed professionally. Then wipe wooden handles several times with linseed oil as a preservative. Digging with a sharp-edged spade is so much easier; once you feel the difference, this will become a Must Do.
Clean Up Rose Bed
If you haven't already done so, remove all plant debris and diseased leaves and canes from the rose bed. Prune to remove only broken, dead, and diseased canes. Put materials in the trash, not the compost pile. Apply 3 inches of organic mulch to the root area, extending in a circle about 3 feet from the plant crown, where main canes meet roots.
After the soil has frozen, protect roses by mounding light soil or organic mulch (chopped leaves, shredded bark, wood chips, light soil, straw, pine needles) 8 to 12 inches high around the plant base and the graft. Some experts suggest erecting a wire cage around the base and filling with the materials listed above. Covering the mound and protecting visible rose canes with burlap wrap is an option, especially in colder areas. Commercial styrofoam cones and synthetic plant covers are also available.
Find Inspiration Outdoors
Take a winter stroll through an arboretum or public garden to appreciate the sculptural forms of conifers and deciduous trees and shrubs. This is a quiet time in any garden, a contemplative opportunity, an artist's moment. Just you, the birds, and the squirrels. Bark textures and colors stand in sharp contrast against a grey sky or white snow. Branches, seedpods, cones, and above-ground roots are center stage in the winter landscape. Take time to read the ID tags of woodies that appeal; you may want to add them to your garden.