Perennials: Evaluate the gardens with an eye toward improvements. There is still time to fill in bare or lackluster areas with fall mums, sedums or Japanese anemones. Bulb orders should be in the mail, but there is still time to purchase a variety of bulbs from your local nursery. Cut back ragged looking perennials and those that have mildew or major slug damage. Begin dividing phlox and day lilies. Continue weeding to prevent seed formation.
Flowers: Collect and save seeds for next year’s garden. Cleome and nigella bear seeds in capsules that are ready to harvest when the capsules turn brown and begin to split. Dry the capsules in a brown paper bag, label and keep in a cool dry place until next spring. Pull up spent annuals and add them to the compost pile.
Vegetables and fruits: Continue harvesting cucumber, eggplant and peppers as they ripen. Cut fruits from the plants instead of pulling them off. Prune to the ground berry canes that have finished fruiting . If the strawberry bed is three years old, rotate it by detaching runners from the mother plants and replanting in fresh, rich, well-drained soil amended with compost or well-rotted manure. Discard the old plants.
Trees and shrubs: Pruning and fertilizing tasks are over for the year. Consider adding flowering shrubs to the perennial border. Roses, viburnums, potentillas, hydrangeas and small lilacs (e.g., ‘Miss Kim’) add structure, color and mass to a flower border. For partial shade, go beyond rhododendron and azalea and consider clethra, fothergilla and mountain laurel.
Lawns: Continue renovation projects, seeding, dethatching and aeration.
Houseplants: Prepare houseplants to move indoors. First, check them over thoroughly for pests and spray if needed with insecticidal soap. Repot overgrown plants.