It has been a day for gathering up the leaves at Autumn Cottage - another free harvest from Mother Nature if we care to collect. I have been 'bagging up' leaves for a few years now - piling them into black refuse bags with a few holes at the bottom and stacking them behind the sheds and fences, hidden away to break down into brown gold - leafmould, which acts as a wonderful soil conditioner and fertiliser. But there is such an abundance of leaves here each year that I rapidly run out of bags and places to hide them.
Two old fire-guards = 1 excellent new leaf cage!
This year I have had a brainwave and utilised two old safety fire guards that have been knocking around the garden for a long time. (I can't remember how I acquired them - but do remember thinking that they would come in handy for something one day). I dragged one from the bottom of the garden to join the other one that has been languishing behind the greenhouse - upended them and lashed them together very simply with some gardening wire, and lo - a large open mesh leaf-bin, some 48 inches (1.2 metres) square, into which I have been able to pile springy-sack after springy sack (collapsible garden refuse bins stiffened with a spring coil to keep them open) - 21 loads in all so far. Nearly ALL the garden leaves for this year are now piled up in there, and still there is room to spare.
A carpet of delicate maple leaves ready to be gathered into the springy-sack
There were two main carpets of leaves in the garden - those - light and delicate - at the bottom of the garden, from the field maple, and a carpet of much tougher, ligneous leaves under the apple tree. I alternated loads from each, as they all break down better if they are mixed - now all I have to do is leave them (leave them - get it? :-)) - For a year, and then add to the veg and flower beds as yet another way of returning nutrients and texturisers instead of piling them on a heap and setting fire to them. What a waste - and I do love free stuff in the garden!
I've had plenty of company as well - as the days grow much shorter, Lissie stays closer to the cottage (she apparently spends longer days with my neighbours across the road). This is why Pip appears so much more often here than Liss - but just for the record, here they are together, valiantly holding down the scraps of old carpet that are suppressing weeds prior to me digging over the beds. (Not beautiful, but very, very effective).
Pip then put in a solo appearance high up in the Acer branches, just to let me know that pussycats can do such things as run vertically up a tree, while Humans really can't. He enjoys looking down on me...(though there was a blue-tit flitting around some much higher branches, demonstrating to Pip that dicky birds can fly - whilst cats - er - very much can't. Oh, the humiliation!
A blue-tit enjoying the last apples, left on the tree precisely for that purpose
Looking closely in Autumn Cottage garden reveals that Nature only *seems* to close down for the winter. Though the leaves of the Cotinus, about to fall, are truly going out in a blaze of glory, the jasmine (along with the hellebores) is bursting into full flower now, demonstrating that there is actually always something interesting and full of vitality going on in the garden - if only we open our eyes to see and appreciate it.