Extending the Herb Season
Harvest and dry herbs, such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, and parsley. Make herbal vinegars. For herbs that don't dry well, such as basil, chives, and tarragon, wash and dry them and store in the freezer in freezer bags. Or make pesto out of the basil and freeze it. Leave out the cheese until just before serving. It's also helpful to put a thin layer of olive oil on top before freezing. Dig up and pot rosemary to overwinter indoors. Start seeds of parsley, cilantro, and basil to grow indoors this winter.
Consider Larch or Bald Cypress
Although it may seem illogical to choose a deciduous conifer, those such as larch or bald cypress add beautiful form to the landscape, both in winter with their shape and in summer with their softly needled foliage. Plant them in the fall as their foliage begins to yellow. Both do best in acid soil, so incorporate peat moss when planting. Bald cypress is a particularly good choice for an area with wet soil.
Plant Tree Peonies
The extravagant flowers of tree peonies are one of the stars of the early-summer garden. Plant them now, selecting a permanent location as they do not transplant well. They do best with a neutral to slightly alkaline soil that has excellent drainage. Prepare the soil to 10 inches deep, incorporating a cup of bonemeal. If the soil is a heavy clay, mix in a quart or so of vermiculite to improve drainage. Mulch around the plants after planting.
Support Your Local Flowers
Even with regular pinching back during the summer, fall-blooming chrysanthemums and asters can do with a little extra support when in flower. If support rings were not put in place as the plants grew, then the best solution now is to insert metal stakes with a loop at the top all around each plant, then attach twine to each loop, surrounding the plant.
Although lily-of-the-valley can survive with hardly any care, to get the best bloom production it pays to rework the beds every three or four years. Dig out the bed, and, with a spading fork, incorporate compost and bonemeal or superphosphate to a depth of at least 8 inches. Select and replant the strongest pips, placing them just below the surface and about 4 inches apart.