Despite the first snow and freeze, your garden is still a living thing. Even now, late bloomers amaze us and you can still salvage many valuable plants.
Autumn crocus defy the cold just the way their spring-flowering cousins do. Crocus speciosus blooms in October and early November. Its pretty lavender flowers are striped with purple veins. It's very hardy and reliable; my bulbs have been thriving for over 20 years. It even seeds itself around a bit.
Crocus sativus is the source of the world's most expensive spice--saffron. You can grow and harvest saffron right in your own backyard. When the pretty lavender flowers open, use tweezers or manicure scissors to pick the crimson "threads." Dry them on the kitchen counter a few days before storing them, or cook with them fresh.
Autumn crocus can only be planted in fall so check with local nurseries to see if they still have them in stock.
Fall is the best time to plant perennials. The soil is still warm and the roots can establish themselves without fighting high heat. Make sure the create an earthen dam around each plant to catch fall rain and winter snow.
Even though the tops have been blackened by frost, your summer-flowering bulbs are still alive. Dig the bulbs and tubers of cannas, dahlias, gladiolus and pineapple lilies. Cut off the top growth and throw it in your compost pile. Store the bulbs in plastic grocery bags. Tie the bags very loosely at the top or they will rot over winter. Store them in a dark, very cool room where they will not freeze. They can be re-activated next spring.
It's well worth saving these bulbs because you can save a lot on your spring gardening budget since you won't need to replace them.