Autumn Leaves Need to Fall

The TF team gardeners share their to do lists this autumn. November 2020.

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf

How the heart feels a languid grief

Laid on it for a covering,

And how sleep seems a goodly thing

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

-Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Autumn reminds us of the temporality of life. The flowering is over and nature needs a rest. Like all living things, we give up the struggle to keep going and looking great and fold in and enjoy the process of ageing which autumn demonstrates with such panache. The garden has always been important as a place to recoup, recluse, escape, be one with nature. More so now, as COVID reigns. Roses need to be pruned at this time of year. Sure, you can do it in spring but by then, the ground is cold so I do like to make the garden ‘tidy’ -prune bushes, trees. The autumn leaves have nearly finished covering the ground. I have got them in my leaf catcher and they are now in black bags where they can compost.

I wait for the leaves to fall so the ones around the plants can go under a fresh layer of soil/mulch. This time, I bought the soil from the local centre. Ordering soil in big amounts is usually a much better idea but taking it around in a family where each member is busy is difficult. Just the sight of so much soil made some of them groan with reluctance last time !

Lugging them to the back into the garden, because the people who deposit the soil pop it in the front of the house only, was such a chore for the family that I decided it will be smaller bags this year, as and when necessary. More manageable. Something feels more do-able when it is in small manageable amounts.

We have two comparatively new planters at the back of the garden where there is a fence and my neighbours’ conifers. Nothing really grows there and I have spent years enriching the garden in that area. The man who made the planters for us had rippling muscles in a tight t shirt. One would think he would have paved, bricked and done many wonders with them but he had a story. His father had a bad back doing this kind of work so the rippling muscles were not going to ripple doing that kind of work. He gave us a different insight though, the minute he came over. We had been using the patio attached to the back door for sitting in the sun purposes. It was not very useful but we went on. He casually said, ‘you need to have some decking there (away from the house and in the sunlight, near conifers) so you can sit ? Yes. Of course. It would have solved the problem of growing plants near conifers long ago ! So now we have square planters and a bit of decking for chairs. For 15 years, it had not occurred to us. I have softened the edges by planting shrubs and vegetables.

Going back to the autumn jobs, wait for leaves to fall, put a fresh top layer is soil, and prune all those tired branches which worked so hard all season. Sprinkle fertiliser which was opened but not fully used. I had a half pack of chicken pellets which I sprinkled around the garden. I don’t feel good about keeping opened fertilisers in sheds. The spades and forks with steel need a clean but that would be next week, when I am done with the pruning.

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