Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Leaf Raking and Putting My Garden to Bed November 10, 2010

I usually wait for the last leaf to fall off our two large maple trees before I start raking.  Then it seems like an endless job of covering garden plants and shrubs with some of the leaves, composting as much as will fit in the piles,and bagging the rest.  I procrastinate raking them all up.  I enjoy the crunch of leaves underfoot and shuffling through them. I love seeing  kids in our neighborhood toss them up in the air, make leaf forts, and jump into the piles.  Now it's November and the first snow has surprised us.  I look out on a half raked yard, still littered with a good amount of leaves, and a forlorn looking garden.  It's certainly not looking neat and tidy.   However, I know from my readings and direct observations that a messy yard is more attractive to birds and wildlife.  Leaf litter is a good hiding place for insects and larvae and will attract wrens, robins, white-throated sparrows, and juncos.  Additionally, the leaves will act as an insulator and fertilizer for the garden plants and soil.  My huge Miscanthus sinensis grass will flop over and become a frozen table for seed and a perch for squirrels and birds.  Underneath the grass, birds will take cover on frigid days and the neighbor's cat will need to be chatted with when she slips under there too.  I haven't cut down any garden plants because I've noticed in past years seed pods from the purple cone flower, black-eyed susans, and rudbeckia, are enjoyed by the goldfinches and chickadees.  A pile of sticks, twigs and large branches meant for a camp fire is turning into a nice brush pile over by the garden shed. Hopefully, it will give winter shelter for birds and small mammals .  Now I'm looking out on the yard thinking things are looking pretty good-at least from a nature lover's standpoint. I think I'm done with raking!

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