Fall is a very busy time in the gardening calendar. Many things can be planted now. Trees and shrubs benefit the most, but perennials and many bulbs also appreciate planting at this time. Cool season vegetables can continue to be planted now up until hard frosts or heavy rains arrive. Many garden chores can also be done now. Cleaning up debris on the ground will greatly reduce the chance of spreading disease spores and weed seeds. Dead wood can be removed at any time, and you can just include it now as part of the general garden clean up before the holiday season gets busy.
A thought about planting edibles in the garden. With the high cost of produce, it makes sense to plant even a few fruits or veggies. Not only do you get the satisfaction of growing your own and sampling Nature’s bounty, but you know if there are any sprays applied, enjoy the fullest taste in everything you grow, and appreciate the joy of satisfaction from growing something until you pick it and enjoy it.
Perennials can be divided now (or wait until they finish blooming if they are blooming at the present time or soon). These herbaceous plants like to establish roots during the cool season so they have a large root system which can produce lush foliage and then blooms next spring, summer, fall. Look to the crown of the plant and see if there are many small shoots competing for space. If that is the case, then dig and divide the plant. Be sure to water it well before you dig it up and try to work in a shaded area to keep the exposed roots moist until they are planted again. Cut back the tops at least half way to balance root loss, and water in the divisions well. You can prepare the site with amendments to the soil. Don’t fertilize yet. Wait until growth begins in spring, but you can use an antitranspirant or B-1 to help with the transplant shock. Plant at the same depth as the plant was when it was growing before you dug it up. Things like Japanese anemone, astilbe, campanula, chrysanthemum, delphinium, hemerocallis, iris, can be divided now as well as some of the vegetable root crops like asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish and alpine strawberries respond to this very well and give you more plants for your efforts so you can increase your potential harvest next year. There are many more species which are too numerous to mention here.
Conifers appreciate planting now as well. These plants have their own individual character and use in the landscape from ground cover, bonsai, to shrubs and trees, as well as accents and specimens.
Sowing seed of cool season crops now will give you some fresh veggies for the table later in winter. All the cole crops, parsley, spinach, lettuce, peas and fava beans can be planted now to get them growing before cold weather arrives.
Sweet peas can also be planted now and the same goes for calendulas and stock. Cyclamen bought from the nursery can be planted now and will bloom all winter into spring and will reseed if they are happy. (just watch out for brachyrhinus beetles and their juvenile grubs and use a systemic insecticide to combat them if they appear or you will lose your plant. (same for heucheras)
Spring will come soon enough and if you plan ahead, you can fully enjoy and add to the gardening pleasure if you plant things that bloom at that time, now. All the deciduous flowering shrubs and trees will benefit from planting now. Dogwoods, flowering cherries, crabapples, Japanese maples, magnolias, forsythia, mock orange(philadelphus), viburnum (*my favorites are V. plicatum tomentosum cvs. both in snowball and lacecap varieties), deutzia, hydrangea (don’t forget the sun loving species like H. paniculata grandiflora), and so many others.
And also while you shop for some of these, keep in mind that there are plants that bloom in winter. Wintersweet(chimonanthus), shrub honeysuckle(Lonicera fragrantissima, L. purpusii, L. standishii), winter daphne (D. odora and other species), Edgeworthia (Japanese paper bush) are but a few surprises that await the keen gardener who plans for winter flowers. Stem and bark colors and textures are also something to remember. Many shrub dogwoods and willows have colorful young twigs in yellow, orange, reds, and even purple/black. Paper bark or shaggy bark as well as striped bark can be found among many tree species. The stripebark/snakebark maples are only rarely seen but impressive beyond compare. Most give a nice yellow fall color too and make medium sized trees in the landscape.