Remember last winter? It was insanely cold with temperatures at 12 below zero for almost a week. So many of our roses died completely to the ground and took many months to recover if they lived at all. That is why we HILL UP OUR ROSES at this time of year. We take one full bag of compost and dump it on the base of each rose bush and pack it down hard. We then cut off the wild shoots of the roses that would whip about in strong winter winds. We save all other major rose pruning for spring. The hill of compost protects the rose plant. In the spring, when you pull the compost away (and use it to spread around and feed the plant), anything that was protected by the hill will be alive. If the winter was wicked cold, the rest of the rose may have died. All you need is that strong base to completely regenerate a healthy new plant again.
If you grow perennial red hot pokers (Kniphofia), do NOT cut the foliage down in the fall. Their leaves are v-shaped and the stubs will chanel water right to the root system and rot it. Instead, tie the leaves together and fold them over, as shown above. Cut them down in the spring and your Kniphofia will be VERY happy!