One of the decisions we have to make in the fall garden is what to leave standing and what to cut down. I base my decision on two things: ease of raking and cleanup in the garden; and, what it looks like in the winter.
When we plant our gardens we want winter interest. Nothing is gloomier than looking out your back yard to frozen, bare ground. Leaving things that sway, or add structure, make the winter garden more interesting. Based on this rule, I cut back hostas because the soggy leaves look depressing and they harbour slugs. I leave things like rubeckia standing. The rubeckia stands proudly, and the black seed heads provide nourishment for the birds in the winter. I usually leave the heads on the Annabelle hydrangeas. The leaves fall off and the heavy nodding heads provide winter and all season interest. I learned to my cost, to leave the heads on Endless Summer hydrangeas, after a summer of no blossoms. Grasses with seed heads I leave, because I love the swaying movement provided by the wind.
I scour my garden for branches, seed heads and pods to add to my urns and I mulch almost everything else into my compost pile where the winter works its magic to provide the black gold compost in the spring.
I get out early in the spring to prune and divide and begin the lovely nurture of Nature`s bounty all over again.