Inland Northwest, High Desert
Preserving Evergreen Boughs
When you bring in evergreen boughs for holiday decorations, first soak the cut ends in a bucket of water for 2 hours. Then set a chunk of water-absorbing, Styrofoam material (found in craft stores) to hold the cut branches in a container that's large enough for your evergreens and insert the branches.
Recutting Christmas Trees
Precut Christmas trees need to be recut again before you bring them indoors. Take a few inches off the trunk and immediately plunk it into a large bucket of water and let it soak up as much as it can. Once you put the tree up, keep its basin filled with water. A six-foot Douglas fir can drink several quarts of water every day in the house.
A heavy wet snow on shrub branches can put too much weight on them, often causing them to break. If the snowfall is wet and heavy, you should make it a point to shake off or gently remove the excess snow before any damage occurs. You don't have to remove all the snow. Leave some as a winter protection.
Once the perennials have been touched by frost, they can be cut back to 6 inches from the soil. If you want to move daisies and other perennials, here's how. Dig around the edges of the plant and lift the intact root ball to move it to the new location. Have the new hole already dug and ready to receive the plant.
Perennial Seeds for Birds
If you want to encourage birds to live off the "natural" seeds in the garden, don't cut back your perennial flowers and grasses. Instead, leave the seed heads on for the birds. They flock to my yard to take advantage of the smorgasbord in the garden. When they're finished eating, cut the plants back and fill up the feeders.