So many folks in my neighborhood (Zone 8b) spend quite a lot of electricity and/or gasoline getting their fallen leaves in bags and onto the street curb these days. Not a lot of analog rake noises abound. And, here in my native deep South, the Live Oaks are the cause of so much local activity.
This candid culprit makes no apologies as it delivers a raucous leaf explosion this time of year. We love them so much whilst they herald the first day of Spring for us by shedding almost every dang brown leaf they have on board. With this kind of flotsam in an Oak lined drive….well, I get excited about the fallen leaves. They are so full of Nitrogen. Click here and here for all the great news!
If ever there were a Southern tree, this guy would be in line. And, my oh my, what a messy boy he is, too. This is the loot from just this morning! The genus classification of Sweet Gum is Liquidambar, named for the amber liquid that is resin that oozes from this valuable hardwood tree. And, even though I forget and walk barefoot past his territory in my back yard and shout “ouch!” from the seedpod and watch every Thanksgiving to Christmas as his leaves cover my garden, I still love him.
Wow. Only in zone 8B can the days go from snowfall and ice to spring-like fantasia in less than four. Not only does the snow bring pretend winter to our warm climes, but, it awakes an appreciation in Charlestonians to get working in our garden toute de suite. Lucky us, Spring is coming quickly.
I have been looking online this morning at all the latest compost bins and tumblers on the market now. All of which, I realize, are totally unnecessary. Chicken wire and re-bar from the hardware store a few blocks over will suffice – just as a big ‘ole pile in the back of the yard will, also. However, when you rent space to live and have the tenant’s restrictions, you may need a tumbler or something with high production value. I have noticed over the last decade that the fancier, more green, more vinyl and more complicated looking the bin, the easier your flat mates, the upstairs neighbors and the landlords are with the whole process. I am still stupefied by the percentages of people unwilling to and terribly afraid of the compost. From Holland to my hometown, people literally fear the topsoil being made in the back yard. (And, in most cases, there is a paper mill or power plant not too far from their parking space…but, I digress.) Yet, in other situations, a designation of space and place can give an individual peace of mind and I understand that. I like to think of these crates as cribs for baby worms. Or, the nursery, if you will. So, for those of us who need a bin, these are a few eye-catching choices.
Proverbial idiom aside, I really have just located my drawing board and I am so excited to see it, again. Hired movers moved my belongings from storage in the deep South to my Grandmother’s home recently without my supervision. I have a lost and damaged report that I am working on and I fear it may turn into a two page document soon (I would hate to sound too complaintful…I am grateful to have had the professionals do the job, however, the OCD section of my mind needs to make the list in order to put herself at ease).
I have returned to my native zone 8b after a four year sojourn around the globe and I have more chores to do this December than expected. And, the list of chores has me very, very happy. A gardener needs to keep busy in the Winter to thrive just as the landscape does. Dormant does not mean dead or idle and the best time for planning and plotting is now. I intend to put pencil to paper today and plot a preferred placement of the compost pile. Back to the drawing board!
I asked my great friend, Randall Lake, for a photograph of his compost pile very recently. I knew it would be good- but how could I have known it would be this good? For all my internet friends out there who allow me the usurpation, I have only this response:
I study the lives on a leaf: the little
Sleepers, numb nudgers in cold dimensions,
Beetles in caves, newts, stone-deaf fishes,
Lice tethered to long limp subterranean weeds,
Squirmers in bogs,
And bacterial creepers
Wriggling through wounds
Like elvers in ponds,
Their wan mouths kissing the warm sutures,
Cleaning and caressing,
Creeping and healing.
Wow! I am very lucky some days and I get to visit places that look like this. Airy Hall in Charleston, South Carolina is a private piece of heaven and this is the ancient Live Oak, or Quercus virginiana, drive way. She is underplanted with lime shaded, gorgeous annual Ryegrass or Lolium multiflorum. Used for color, beauty and erosion control out of doors and quick growing (seeding almost overnight) color terrarium extravaganza indoors by me (see category). And, I must credit myself with the photo, though, I would like to make sure that everyone knows that I have not always used mine own photographs and will continue to find others that enchant me….however, I will try and find the author and give credit where credit is due!