Perennials: Finish cleanup, including pulling still growing weeds. Cut back late blooming mums. Leave the ornamental grasses for winter interest. Cut back perennials to 4-5”. Spread fertilizer such as 5-10-5-on perennial beds. It will work in to the soil during the winter. Continue planting bulbs as long as weather permits. To keep voles away from tulips add a handful of crushed gravel to the hole.
Fruits and vegetables: Clean up fallen leaves under fruit trees to prevent over wintering disease. Protect tree trunks from mouse and vole damage with wire mesh trunk guards. Incorporate lime and fertilizer into the vegetable garden
Flowers: Continue potting up bulbs for spring forcing. Start paperwhites and Amaryllis.
Trees & Shrubs: Spray broad leaved evergreens with anti-dessicant to prevent the loss of moisture. Apply when temperature is above 40 degrees. Make a note of shrubs and trees that hold on to colorful leaves until late fall. They are pleasing to the eye as the sky turns gray.
Lawns: The last mowing should be 1-1 ½’. Chop up the leaves with the mower and leave on the lawn. Grass clippings from lawns treated with any chemical should never be added to the compost. Many of the chemicals do not break down and can wreak havoc where the compost is used.
Houseplants: Purchase or bring out last year’s Amaryllis. Keep it in a bright light. Water sparingly until foliage emerges and more often when flowering stalks appear.
General: Bluestone Nursery in Ohio sends plants in bio degradable pots made from coconuts that go right in the ground, and with no more peanuts in the box.
Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester
Many hydrangeas turn a gorgeous purple-red in fall.