Leaves Linger

As the calendar year comes to an end, winter has been quite mild so far here in St. Louis, with the notable exception in November of the few days of arctic air. That blast did something that's been causing some extra work: it froze leaves to some trees.

Instead of turning colors and falling as usual, some of them got "freeze dried", and therefore clung to the branches longer than they should have. The result is that leaf cleanup has been a more lengthy process than normal.


The oak trees are usually the only ones letting their leaves drop throughout winter, but this year they have company. So I've had to do more leaf cleanup than I like. Luckily about ten days ago we had a beautiful and warm weekend, so the work was quite enjoyable!

I raked and mowed (with my mulching mower) the lawn.

The walkway caught a lot of leaves too...

...but doesn't really look much different after cleaning it up:

I don't fret over every single leaf like some of my neighbors do.

In fact, I raked most of them into the beds, including the new bamboo planting:

Some of them will surely migrate back to the lawn -- especially if we have a dry spell -- but that's okay. The rest will provide shelter for various critters and do a bit of decomposing.

One bed that already catches plenty of leaves is the cactus bed:

I should say "beds" plural because there are two of them -- I keep forgetting!

I didn't worry about the leaves last year, but I know now that leaves trap too much moisture, and for plants (like cactus) that don't really mind the cold as long as it's dry, well, anything that keeps things wet is not good.

Leaves may be dry on top, but underneath...

...it's just too wet!

I forget that some of the plants want a bit of light during the winter too, like the sedum and the creeping thyme...

So I spent some time with a simple stick, "raking" the leaves out from between the opuntias and other plants. I did not want to get my hand anywhere in there.

The end result is happier plants that are more visible:

This one was severely damaged last winter.
I wonder if it will make it through another?

Our precipitation is just about at normal for the year (about 40"/100cm), and I'm hoping that all of these plants make it through another winter. If they don't, I guess that means I'll need to make some adjustments.

Note that my postings will be pretty sporadic for the next week or so. Hope everybody has a wonderful Christmas!


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Charlie@Seattle Trekker  – (December 25, 2014 at 2:31 AM)  

I really enjoyed your posts over this past year and look forward to sharing your thoughts in 2015. Have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the New Year...May each day bring you special moments.

sandy lawrence –   – (December 25, 2014 at 8:08 AM)  

I second Charlie, Alan. Looking forward to 2015 adventures on your blog and wishing you a good gardening New Year. BTW, I happened upon a child's set of exceptionally small gardening tools at a flea and the light bulb went off to use these in and around cactus, though your stick method did a fine job.

Anonymous –   – (December 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM)  

I'm in leaf clean up mode too. Merry Christmas, and I'm looking forward to your posts in the New Year. Reading them gives me motivation in my own garden :)

Lisa  – (December 27, 2014 at 9:53 PM)  

Before this year ends I wanted to add my thanks - I've enjoyed every post since I first found your blog... whenever that was! I look forward to 2015 and another year in the garden!

Alan  – (December 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM)  

Charlie, Sandy, Lisa, and all: thank you for the votes of confidence. It's good to know that you're enjoying what I'm doing!

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