Wednesday, November 4, 2009

As The Fother Gilla Turns

Last week our Fothergilla was a veritable rainbow of green, gold, orange, red and a plummy burgundy. Here they are a week later moving completely in to the reds, orange and burgundy while the Acer griseum, the Paper Bark Maple overhead remains a stubborn green. This maple is alleged to have a brilliant red color in the fall. My limited experience with these and other small Japanese type maples is the leaves hang on until they get frozen a crispy brown and fall off. I have yet to see one of them color nicely.

There is a better chance of seeing some left over fall the lower down the mountain you go. Still, it is far advanced. The naked outnumber the clothed. A few oddballs are still green. I go down there to civilized gardens to tidy the perennial beds for winter interest and to rake leaves where such an activity makes some sense, sort of.

Leaves are still falling and a fair wind blows and I am at a task that can not be completed to any real state of satisfaction. I am a bit perplexed by this activity.

This is not something I did in Hawaii to any great extent. The few deciduous trees there would just get their leaves ground up in a mulching mower or raked directly into beds for a mulch. Occasionally a large Monkeypod tree would dump so many pods they had to be raked up before mowing. I am familiar with a rake and do not really mind the job of raking.

So piles of leaves are produced for a big vacuum truck that roams the neighborhood at unknown intervals. By the time these piles were produced a new layer of leaves was building in the places just raked. The quantity of leaves here is just astounding.

I don't recall this volume from last year and wonder did I just not do it as often because it was such a foreign concept it did not enter my mind. If I didn't rake all these leaves last year where did they go? Or did the year of the monsoon produce a bumper crop of leaves?

I don't know the proper etiquette of leaf raking. Should I just wait until they have all fallen? Does it make more sense to break it up as the process unfolds so that the beds are not buried too deeply for too long in a soaking wet smothering blanket of leaves? I have no zen of leaf raking.

As the fother gilla turns I rake. I will be raking for a few more weeks at least. Two Sweetgum trees with nary a blush of color look determined to extend the leaf raking season. At some point a sense of a completed job is bound to occur.

Maybe then it will be time to break out the blower for that pristine look of a job well done.


chuck b. said...

Oh, that's a Fothergilla; I thought it was a witch hazel. I really liked the plummy phase, which seemed like just a few days ago.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think everyone has their own leaf raking agenda. Some people think it is best to just wait until all leaves have fallen. I on the other hand like to mulch leaves as they come down. It makes for an easier job. I don't rake leaves into the curbside. I put the mulched leaves in my garden beds. It is interesting to see how neighbors do their leaves. You can tell by how and when the piles at the curb appear what their method/schedule of raking is. It does seem like trees have more or fewer leaves on a given year. That goes for the seeds they produce too.

Carol said...

The main problem with leaf raking isn't so much when you do it, as long as you eventually do it. The main problem is if you have a neighbor who is of the "clean rake it" every few days school of leaf raking and your leaves remain un-raked and blow into his yard, so he feels like he is raking your leaves, too. Then you've got trouble.

sweet bay said...

The colors of the Fothergilla are magnificent. I'm glad I live where I don't have to worry about leaf raking.

Anonymous said...

I have discovered in my "forest" that leaves don't decompose NEARLY as fast as they claim they do. Consequently I rake most of them out of the beds and have them run over with the mower, knowing that more will fall and/or blow into the beds over winter. That way I can keep the accumulation to a manageable thickness.
At your clients' it will probably depend on their preferences. People seem to be as vociferous about their leaf opinions as they are about national politics, for crying out loud! (:
That fothergilla is something. Mine is still the muddy yellow and dropping; I am green with envy!


Christopher C. NC said...

Yes it is a Fothergilla Chuck. I didn't notice your mixup. They are both in the Hamamelidaceae family. Our Fothergilla here is yellow and brown and the native Witch Hazel just turns brown with maybe a hint of yellow and starts blooming as the leaves fall. The gorgeous Gilla is at Client # 1's.

Lisa this garden is on a steep slope so half the leaves go to the road to be sucked up and more go down hill into the wild area just to clean off the vinca groundcover on the upper slope and another side of the yard that is a forest shrub combo I just leave in place. They have not asked me to do it any particular way so I just do what I think is best.

Carol there could be trouble. The neighbor on one side cut down every last tree on his lot and I have no intention of raking that side of the property. It is the forest shrub side. Leaving the leaves in place makes far more sense.

Sweetbay the true identity of this Fothergilla needs to be determined since it is far more attractive in fall color than the one in our garden. It is nice that when I come home I don't have to worry about raking leaves in this garden either.

Bev it was my feeling that the leaves were far too thick in the beds especially since they all have a thick hardwood mulch already. I get the bulk and don't worry about perfection. I know about client preference. The place I am going tomorrow has a clean freak owner.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

That color is amazing... I only wish I had the space needed for those to spread out and thrive here...