Fall and Conservation

Yellow Mum - 1

I love the colors in the fall.  Fall is the time for Moms to shine. In the mist of the warm hues of the fallen leaves, Chrysanthemums or Mums, regales us with their impossible abundance of flowers.  In the above photo, my first and earliest Mum, purchased so many years ago, before I became obsessed with plants and varieties, that I lost track of the name of this cultivar, but year after year, it is the brightest, longest and latest bloomer in the entire garden.

Most importantly, fall is a time for restoration and conservation. Trees and shrubs, responding to the shortening of daylight and lower temperatures,  shed their leaves and concentrate in sending their energy and carbohydrates to their roots and go dormant.  Perennials, having fulfilled their season’s life cycle, just discard of all their visible presence so that only their invisible roots remain. In the process, and by design, we are left with a wealth of plant material that in turn is meant to feed and restore the soil around the plants themselves. It is the earth’s recycling process.  Its means of renewal. Replacing what was taken or depleted.  What a marvelous earth we live on!

But this is not all! All the forest and garden creatures that live among us also rely in this fall of riches to eat, as in the case of the acorns that so abundantly blanket our grounds. Or to complete their life cycle like so many Lepidoptera and lightening bugs, and to find refuge from inclement weather in the months to come, like reptiles and small mammals.

So that being said, it is clear to me that armed with this information, it is necessary for us to change the way that we garden and conserve as much of the fallen leaves as possible.  Specially those in the garden beds.  I would like to say just leave them until spring.  Smaller leaves will all but disappear by then. Larger leaves such as oak and maple sp. can be mulched and recycled to put back in the soil as mulch.  I would not leave large leaves on the grass all winter but run them over with a mulching mower and leave them.  They provide nutrients to the grass as well. Find more information on recycling leaves here.

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
Joe L. Wheeler

Related reading

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/soils/options-for-disposing-of-leaves/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/recycle-your-leaves.aspx

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