It's a gloriously sunny and crisp day up here, just north of Chicago. So, let's put on some flannel and get out in the garden! The rain from the last few days has knocked down a bunch of leaves, which can keep the kids busy raking.
Once you've gathered a pile of leaves (and after everyone's had a chance to jump into the big pile a few times!) you could mulch them up with your lawnmower or leaf blower (if you have one of those blower/mulcher versions). You might also cut down and/or remove annuals and vegetables to add to your compost pile. Be sure to check for diseases and pests before adding anything to the mulch or compost. You certainly don't want to be harboring anything nasty. Once you've got your compost ingredients neatly piled, let them sit for a while until it starts to look more like soil.
It might be a good time to empty out any pots or containers that aren't freeze-proof, to prevent damage over the winter.
Now for some pruning.
Prune any shrubs you've got that don't bloom in the spring (i.e. Spirea, Weigela, Dogwood). Cut 1/3 of the plant out in this order:
1. Diseased branches
2. Branches that rub against each other
3. Branches that are not aesthetically pleasing
4. Trim to shape
A "rejuvenation prune" would involve cutting the whole plant down if the plant has become very woody or barren.
As for rose bushes, you can cut them down to 12" to 15" tall then mound them up with leaves, mulches, soil...whatever you've got available. This should be done closer to December and should help keep your bushes at a consistent temperature throughout the winter.
Watch your weather forecasts because after the first hard frost you'll want to cut back anything dead or fading from your perennials.
OK. That should be plenty of work for one beautiful Sunday afternoon. Next time we'll discuss more steps to winter-proof the garden and also tool maintenance. As always, questions and/or comments are welcome.
Now, time for some hot chocolate!