Late autumn, and the leaves are almost all fallen. They look wonderful, sound delightful in the breeze and it’s great to kick your feet through them. With various tree species loosing their leaves at different times, the colour has lasted for a good couple of months this year, and the oaks are now one of the last trees to be letting go.
So what happens to them? Where they fall on paths, turf and beds we rake, sweep or blow them up. We do this for health and safety of people, and the health of the grass and plants beneath. But one very important reason is because these leaves provide us with a fantastic resource.
Most of the leaves are collected and composted separately from the rest of our green waste as they decompose at different rates. First, we shred the leaves before leaving them to mature over the year in a large wind-row on the compost pad in Wisley village. Once it’s ready, the material is used in the garden in areas like the Alpine Department, as a compost additive (for plants that a need light, free-draining substrate) and as well as a soil ameliorant in woody areas such as Battleston Hill.
On a domestic scale it is well worth making your own leaf mould, and needn’t take up much space. http://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profiles1002/leafmould.asp
We do all our composting in Wisley Village, away from the Garden, and we screen for hazardous materials and deal with them as appropriate. However, the Garden is under threat from a large scale waste-composting facility to the west of us where potential plant pathogens will not be separated off. This link provides all the information about it, but any objections must be received by Friday 28th November.