Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




The colour of autumn

 CAST your eye across the countryside to appreciate that autumn leaf colour is the most impressive natural effect of the season. The many shades of autumn bring charm and elegance to both the garden and the landscape during mild weather.

Japanesse maples, Virginia Creeper and many other trees, including cercidifolium japonicom the sugar tree, will soon be aglow in the garden showing their true magnificence as they assume their spectacular autumn colours.

Leaf mould is a very valuable resource, especially as a soil improver, but fallen leaves may create a lot of work, particularly if they fall in all the wrong places. On rockeries or heather beds they can encourage slugs and cause plants to rot. A mass of leaves can be a disaster, and on the lawn they can be picked up easily with a rotary mower, while elsewhere, raking with a wire rake or motorised leaf blower is usually the most suitable.

When all the leaves have fallen and gathered and heaped they can be composted. Good leaf mould can take a few seasons to make but the process can be speeded up by mixing nitrogen rich fertiliser through the leaves which will aid the rotting process, resulting in a suitable compost for future use as a mulch.

As the winter months and the berry crops reach their peak, wild birds and animals, such as squirrels, need to eat for the hungry times ahead. Local thrushes and blackbirds will feed hungrily on berries of contoneaster, sorbus, pyracantha and rosehips.

Hedgehogs will be hibernating beneath thick undergrowth, long grass and leaves. A bird table in the garden will attract lots of small birds, especially if you provide protein and energy rich foods like peanuts It is important to feed the birds through the winter