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Dealing with leaves will wear you out

Dealing with leaves will wear you out

Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 8:00 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams

Margaret Cole (nee Postgate) was an Englishwoman and lifelong socialist who was a pacifist during World War I and a supporter of World War II. Which has nothing to do with this, but her lines on falling leaves do.
They (leaves) are, as we speak, falling thickly and smothering out your beds, borders and lawn.
As long as they were doing yeoman duty, that is, hanging on their host trees and shading your deck or terrace, you gave them their due (I hope) with ardent thanks.
“… thickly, silently they fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon” — Margaret Postgate Cole on autumn leaves
Now then, you have to mess with them for endless hours, right up until about Christmas. They don’t all fall at once, unless they are ginkgo leaves.
There are all sorts of contrivances to help you, from hand rakes to rotating sweepers, blowers and on down to those useless hand vacuums that pick up one or a few leaves at a time. It would take until this time next year to complete any sizeable leaf job with them.
It is amusing to watch that half-hour “infomercial” on one of the high TV channels concerning the vacuum contraption. An indoor set is used with green carpet, a garden shed and maybe a patio.
There are a few colored leaves scattered about and the couple diddle around with the vacuum, that you can only buy from television, of course, sucking up a leaf here and another there until, presently (with a scene cut or two) all 50 or so leaves are magically gone, leaving the green carpet pristine and all tucked in for winter. What a joke.
What you (and I) have are not 50 leaves, but 50,000 (or 50,000,000) and we need more than a hand-held leaf sucker to do the job. That rake, especially one of the wide ones made especially for leaves, works fine, and is about 100 times faster than the hand vacuum. It also offers the desirable side-effect of aerobic exercise.
A few hours raking will get you to breathing harder.
Lawn sweepers pulled behind a riding mower work well, especially if the mower has first ground the leaves finely. In that case the bin will hold a lot more volume than it will when filled with whole leaves.
In either case, however, load capacity on most models is woefully short, making for frequent dumping which, however, is an easy task if it can be done from the driver’s seat.
The same problem is evident with mowers with grass catchers.
When leaves are thick, the catcher will fill up almost immediately. Bigger mowers can be fitted with a pull-behind grass and leaf catcher that holds a lot more, but these present maneuverability problems around trees and other obstacles.
Blowers are good on a limited scale, but even the most powerful ones quickly build up a wall of leaves that becomes impossible to move. They have to be loaded and hauled away frequently. Then, too, the high-decibel whine of blowers is a nuisance in a quiet neighborhood.
Side-eject riding mowers can blow and push leaves around pretty effectively, and by mowing repeatedly in the same direction, a considerable stretch of chopped up leaves can be built before they need hauling away.
Suffice it to say, by the time you are through dealing with leaves, you will be ready to move on to other things until next autumn. But haven’t they been pretty? 
I stand corrected
As is occurring with increasing regularity, I stand corrected. Last week I referred to a Dolly Parton daylily plant given to me by friend Diane Mahan.
Diane reminded me it wasn’t Dolly Parton at all, but Minnie Pearl. I knew it was something to do with the Grand Ole Opry. I can’t imagine why I was thinking of Dolly instead of Minnie. Oh, wait. Yes I can.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is the garden writer for The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Mondays at (731) 642-1162.

Published in The Messenger 11.6.12