Of autumn leaves and fond farewells

J.J. Strong
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Gardeners have several options regarding leaves. In the past two weeks, they have rapidly changed into some beautiful colours — probably the best in many years — and recent winds and rain have caused many to drop.

If not already started, it is time to sweep them up, but, with the next moderate, let alone strong, wind more of the same aged leaves will blow onto your garden from the neighbours’.

You might wish to let them stay in the garden and blow out on the street, or to your neighbour’s garden. When you are ready, on a calm, near windless day, start raking, but do the job properly to avoid injuries to your feet or back. Use a long handled fan rake so you do not have to bend as much. Wear good, old comfortable gardening shoes to provide support to your ankles, not flip flops that I often see being used, especially by ladies.

With your toes facing the direction of the leaves you will be raking, and legs apart for balance, start raking by stretching out the rake and pulling the leaves towards you, without too much bending (hence the long-handled rake).

Try to avoid twisting your body by realigning your feet and direction of rake.  Change hands and feet from left to right etc., to give them a rest. I know you want to get the job done, but do not rush and tire yourself out.

Once the leaves are in a pile, collect them into garbage bags. They can then be used by you on the compost pile, or on a separate pile to make leaf mould, an old fashioned, organic method to obtain a compost for your fall bulbs, or other parts of the garden, in one or two years’ time.

Some municipalities have collection points for using the leaves in their compost piles. One can also collect leaves by using blowers and blowing the leaves into collection piles. Another modern method is to use garden vacuum cleaners to suck up the leaves, but again do the job safely. As always, the choice of method is yours.

Remember, all the time the leaves are on the paths and roads and it is wet, they will be slippery, so be careful not to slip and fall down.

Small bulbs

It is unfortunate the small bulbs are often overlooked by many new gardeners and I believe that it is because some of the major retail outlets tend to only stock most of the “big” bulbs.

However, if you look in your local nursery, you will probably find one or two species of small bulbs, probably crocus. I know Holland Nurseries and Gaze Seed Co. in

St. John’s still have a range of small bulbs.

For a broader, or rare named range, you may have to seek out a specialist company next year. Time is moving along, so get out and buy and plant.

Fritillaria meleagris (Snakes Head F) (Plovers Egg Fritillary) (Guinea Hen Flower) is native to Europe from England to Russia, and dates back to 1572, with many new varieties also available such as in 1982, F. meleagris “Alba,” or in 1983, F. michailovesky (F. michailovskyi) from Turkey.

A few years ago, they were not on commercial lists, but now are readily available.

They grow and naturalize well in this province. The two or three,

2-inch (5 cm) flowers are a rather broad, nodding, bell shape, coloured in muted tones of grey, purple, brown and white, with checkered features. Their height of 6-15 inches (15-38 cm) is dependent on the soil conditions — tall in wet meadows and low in drier gardens. Plant 3 inches (7.5 cm) deep and the same distance apart.

Clocks go back

This weekend (Saturday night-Sunday morning) is the end of daylight saving time and the clocks go back one hour. This will mean that you must judge the times you can go out in the garden and also it will depend on the weather.

Final column

I regret to say that due to age and various other circumstances, this is my last column.

I have enjoyed helping readers since my first Telegram column on Jan. 24, 1986, and in The Western Star for many years.

I thank all readers for their questions and their gardening opinions. Good luck in your continued gardening.

I also wish to thank my various editors over the years for their patience.

J.J. Strong is a longtime member

of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.

Organizations: Holland Nurseries and Gaze Seed Co., Newfoundland Horticultural Society

Geographic location: Europe, England, Russia Western Star

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