All about autumn: Fallen leaves are keeping gardeners busy this month
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Pictures on social media of scenic views with the trees turning wonderful burnt golds and oranges are hard to avoid at this time of year, says Debbie McMorran – not to mention the jobs that go with them.
You can't go anywhere at the moment without being bombarded with images of autumn leaves - amid the Facebook posts of pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes are a myriad of images of leaves, and stags, and all things autumnal.
Along with the beauty of the season comes the seemingly endless task of collecting leaves from the garden. I spent hours last week raking up leaves from our front lawn, and moving apples which have fallen and started to rot.
Unfortunately the apple tree which overhangs our back lawn is not fruitful with delicious eating apples, but instead a rather distasteful apple which seems good for neither eating, nor cooking - one of these days I will find a good use for them, but for now, they just leave me with another autumn job to do!
Last year we picked up as many as we could and carried them all down the garden to the compost bin. This year, with a rather more energetic toddler, my time was at more of a premium, and I made the decision instead to move as many as I could onto the flowerbeds. With most of them already fairly well broken down, it won't take long at all for them to complete their rotting, and start adding goodness into the soil beneath them.
Similarly the leaves - which are countless in number. Having brushed the pathways around the garden, and collected up the leaves to take to the compost heap, those which I raked up from the lawn have instead been swept onto the flower beds.
Although they don't look very tidy, they will provide an extra layer on top of the autumn bulbs to protect from any harsh frosts and dropping temperatures which seem well on their way (or so it felt on several colder mornings out with our dog this week!)
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The downside to choosing to leave these on the flowerbeds is of course that when it is windy, the leaves just get blown straight back onto the lawn again; we'll see how long it takes before I totally give in and collect them all up for the compost or the council green recycling bin.
As I write this, there are still plenty of other jobs that need to be done in the garden. The lawns have certainly not stopped doing their growing for the year, and each time the mower comes out, I hope that it might be the last time that this particular job needs doing for the year.
It's always hard to know when the last cut might be - but this year we are in a state of change, as we have made the big decision to take up one of the lawns altogether to replace it with artificial grass. At the time this goes to press, we will be preparing for the arrival of the new lawn, so I will write in more detail next month when I can explain the process and show how it has gone!
It hasn't been an easy decision, as I was totally against the idea of artificial grass, but the onslaught of a rather wet autumn has made my decision for me - the combined trauma of a toddler and a puppy on an already fairly muddy lawn, has meant that my floors are being constantly mopped, and the lawn itself is looking in a very sorry state.
I have always been a big advocate of 'bringing the outdoors inside', but I'm afraid the amount of soil that was ending up in my kitchen was rather taking it to the extreme!
Even though we are nearing the end of the gardening year, there is no reason why you can't still be getting outside (particularly when there is a break in any wet weather), so make sure you wrap up warm and keep enjoying your outside spaces! With the shorter days, it is all the more important to make sure you get outside and get some fresh air and daylight when you get the chance.
Things to do in the garden this month
- As I have already mentioned, temperatures are really starting to dip. Make sure you get ahead of the game in protecting your outdoor plants in pots and containers, by providing them with some insulation. Bubble wrap from packaging or fleece work well for this - do make sure they are well secured though, so they don't come loose for wildlife to ingest.
- Similarly, if you have plants in pots that aren't already on pot feet, it's worth investing in some, so that the plants don't become waterlogged over the winter months.
- If you have roses in the garden, now is the time to prune them (if you haven't already done so), in order to protect them from getting damaged by high winds.
- Collect up the leaves! If you hadn't already got that from the main article, you can either compost them, or some of you might be heaping them up for a bonfire.
It hopefully goes without saying that there are specific regulations about where you can have bonfires (in relation to times of day, distance from a road, etc.), but also that they are a lovely place for wildlife (particularly hedgehogs) to climb underneath to hibernate.
Make sure you double check before lighting the fire that no little friends are sleeping underneath.