Many are the reasons to love gardening, but cleaning up in fall and winter is not one of them.
The wealth of trees in Country Connecticut, along with the frequent blowdowns, produced an extrordinary harvest of tree litter in the past several months – led by leaves, leaves, leaves.
Fall came and went, and I was not even tempted to go out and blow them around. I've always been a raking man, as I explain in this 2010 Hartford Courant essay.
As time goes by, even regular raking makes me want to find a better way. Well, I've done it. Instead of getting out there in late autumn, combing over my acre of gardens, I waited for the leaves to come to me, or at least come to places next to the house and behind the garage (below), where I can scoop them up.
We've heard a lot about slow food. This is slow raking.
I've noticed that if I wait long enough, herds of leaves also congregate around trees and shrubs, caught in branches growing close to the ground, such as Japanese maples that spread horizontally.
The trick is to not wait so long that these leaves get covered with snow and ice, as they'd last until spring. Hauling mushy leaves is not the way I want to begin that season. Time's running out; even in this weird winter, I know there will be snow, and there will be ice. Eventually.
The driveway, meanwhile, stays clear, serving as a highway for leaves headed for my roundup sites.
To be sure, tolerating the view of unraked leaves for months requires a good deal of patience, not always given to gardeners. But there's a payoff: accomplishing more in less time. As I grow older – and wiser? – I might move past even slow raking. And, not rake at all, letting nature compost my leaves in place.