Don't Cut Back Basal Leaves of Perennials
When you're doing your final clean-up in the garden, be sure not to cut back the new basal growth that developed at the crowns of perennials such as Shasta daisy, salvia, Stoke's aster, peachleaf bellflower, scabiosa, sea holly, Oriental poppy and globe thistle. Also leave the foliage of lady's mantle, bergenia, soapwort and sea lavender unpruned in fall and clean up any tattered leaves in spring.
Watch Out for Winter Annual Weeds
Keep an eye out for weeds that germinate in the cool fall weather. Pull or hoe them out on a mild day before they get a chance to get established. Look for weeds such as bittercress, chickweed, pineapple weed and henbit. (See "Web Finds" in the Resources section for a link to a great on-line weed identification guide.) After weeding, spread a new layer of mulch to get a jump on spring chores.
Put Up Burlap Screening
To protect evergreens such as yews and rhododendrons from winter burn due to winter sun and wind, erect burlap screens around susceptible plants, but don't wrap the plants themselves. If you choose to wrap plants directly, use a breathable, spunbonded landscape fabric available from garden stores, but don't cover plants until early to mid December.
Look for Viburnum Leaf Beetle Eggs
Now and throughout the winter, look for viburnum leaf beetle eggs on the ends of stems of susceptible species, including American and European cranberry bush and arrowwood. The female beetle chews holes in the twigs into which she lays her eggs, then covers the eggs with excrement, giving the twigs a roughened appearance. Prune out and destroy infested wood. For pictures of what to look for, go to http://www.hort.cornell.edu/vlb/eggs.html.
Take Care of Cyclamens
Cyclamens are a favorite winter-blooming gift plant with their graceful, butterfly-like blossoms. Keep them thriving by giving them a cool, bright spot with some direct sun. Keep the soil lightly moist; use tepid water and try not to get it on the crown of the plant. Pinch off flower stems as they fade.