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A Gardener's Reflections On Autumn Leaves

Chris Glass
Wikimedia Commons

The multitude of colors is visually stimulating. The final color show is golden yellows, bright yellows, reds, oranges, burgundies, russets. The list goes on. Drifted together, the leaf piles are red spectrum rainbows. 

On a starry, breezy night the leaves bustle down the street like they’re going somewhere. This is when someone grumbles `yeah, blowing into the garden I just cleaned.’ On a bike ride or a walk, it’s fun to crunch through the leaves. In a quiet backyard, you can hear them fall from the tree into the pile. Bustling and crunching are autumn sounds.

"Of course to really experience the leaves, you have to roll in them."

A favorite memory is the smell of burning leaves. Back in the day, we put potatoes under our piles of leaves. All morning we’d add bushels of leaves to burn. By the time the pile burned down we had baked potatoes.

Now, in most residential areas, it’s illegal to burn piles of leaves. And I understand the environmental issue. So to create the same smell, I throw handfuls of leaves into the chiminaia. On a cool afternoon or evening that autumn smell is recreated around the backyard fire-pit. 

Of course to really experience the leaves, you have to roll in them. Rake up piles for the kids to jump into. Have your friends cover you with a blanket of leaves. Pile leaves on the trampoline and bounce with them. Leaves are down your shirt and up your pant leg. 

But like all good things, the leaves have their end. They turn brown and get wet with the first snow. Their time has come to be crushed in the leaf vacuum or shredder.

Credit Isaac Wedin / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The new autumn sensory experience is the whirring buzz of a leaf blower. It’s also the sounds of small gas engine. It’s the smell of exhaust and dust in the air. You can pile only so many leaves into the compost or onto the garden.       


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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