The past week or so has been just bearably cold enough to allow a few end-of-season tasks:
Empty out containers: spent plants are retired to the compost pile; perennials like these succulents are dug into a corner of the garden. We'll see how well, if at all, they over-winter.
Rake maple leaves from the back beds. These will form a life-suppressing mat if left undisturbed. The frequent advice about leaving unraked leaves to serve as a winter mulch carries one large and generally omitted disclaimer: these mulches apply only to smaller, non-toxic leaves, like those from beech and dogwood trees.
Mow the lawn, short. Sadly, trimming newly sown grass is like giving a balding guy a haircut: he may have a new 'do, but he's still bald.
Prune back rose growth and tie canes to trellis.
Untap and store garden hoses.
Cut down perennials with wilted, diseased, or ugly foliage: peonies, phlox, irises, ladybells, hostas, astilbe.
Start drawing up my long list of spring chores.
Inside, a potted amaryllis is just starting to leaf out.
Time for a change of venue . . . and a cup of hot chocolate!