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Grab a Rake and Have Some Fun

I love the leaves upon the trees

and as they're falling in the breeze;

and when they pile upon the ground,

I love their crinkly, crunchy sound

beneath my feet!

When I was a child, I liked to visit my grandmother's house in autumn. Her house was perched up on a hill, and there was a large rock retaining wall at the bottom. The grown-ups would rake mountains of leaves in front of the wall, and we children would take flying leaps off the top of the wall into them. I'm sure we undid most of the adults' hard work; but there was lots of laughter, and I don't remember anyone complaining. I was nearly an adult myself before I discovered that many people consider raking a chore and not a game.

I maintain a positive attitude about fallen leaves. They make excellent mulch, and I generally let them lie in the woodlands. We do rake them off the lawn and the paths. My neighbor gave us the lightweight Trooper rake seen in the photo above. It is 30 inches wide and does a terrific job.

I was out raking just a few days ago. It was a perfect day, and the fall foliage of my Japanese maples was at its peak. Here are some photos which illustrate why these are among my favorite trees:

After admiring the Japanese maples, I headed for the woodland garden:I like to keep the leaves off the moss paths, so the moss will grow better. While I was raking I noticed the woodland pot I nestled in an old rotting stump. The pretty leaves sprinkled all around reminded me of rose petals:

The leaves are falling from euonymus alata shrubs, aptly called burning bush:

Guess what's inside the pot:

A warning about burning bush:  Although I have never seen any seedlings in my own garden and in fact one of the original five I planted died and had to be replaced, this is considered an invasive species and is even banned in some areas.

After raking the moss paths I studied the results:One could argue whether this is a before or after photo!

I was glowing with satisfaction when a shower of leaves fluttered down in front of me. I laughed. One can't get too serious about raking my yard, but I will keep at it. If I waited till all the leaves were off the trees, I would be wading through over a foot of foliage. Now that would take real work to clear!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and remember this: Raking leaves can burn nearly 300 calories per hour, so if you are feeling guilty about that extra serving of turkey dressing, grab a rake and have some fun!

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Reader Comments (14)

Ok you got me Deborah!! I'm going to get out there and rake tomorrow afternoon. I have one beautiful Japanese Maple and a couple Burning Bushes...they are still hanging on with brilliant color. Your woodland pot is just a joy. I have a little spot of grass in the woods so I know all about the leaves building up. I just think it's amazing how they disappear by Spring!!

November 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEve

Wow! I long to grow those Japanese maples! Beautiful photos. Brings back memories of a Mother's Day gift I got so many long years ago. Had to leave it in the ground back at my old Atlanta home, as a Japanese maple will not grow in this part of Florida. What a beautiful specimen it was, though still not very big when we moved. I bet it's huge now! You are lucky to have so many! I remembered seeing those burning bushes everywhere when hiking through the woods back in Georgia. Yes, they are quite invasive. Love those shots of your woodland pot. How pretty!

November 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Hi Deb,

I don't have enough trees to need raking, but I too just leave any which blow into the garden to rot down, perhaps once things are a little larger/more mature I may be tempted to rake up but for now they look pretty (at first anyway) and feed the plants and tree in the coming season.

Great news that it burns calories though! Although I might need to do a little more than an hour's work :)

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Very beautiful! I hope my maple grows to be that nice someday.

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfer

You'd have to love raking, working in such a beautiful place! Those fallen burning bush leaves do look just like rose petals. A perfection description.

Normally I just let the leaves fall where they may, like you, but I need to do some raking so that I can mulch the new lasanga beds. 300 calories an hour sounds good!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

Dear Deborah, There is nothing like leaf raking to really get one hot. A good way to economise on the heating. What always amazes me is the length of time that leaves take to break down....they still remain looking like leaves for over a year.

I do so hope that you are enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving weekend.

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

I used to do exactly the same thing when I was a child - we had some beech trees and I remember the piles of leaves as being huge but then I was quite small at the time! Most of our leaves have gone now and it is beginning to look quite wintery

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

Well, These images are stunning and you make it sound like so much fun to be outside watching the leaves fall. They are beautiful on the trees and on the ground. Gorgeous post!

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Beautiful photos!! That was an 'after photo' for sure. :) Actually I thought the leaves look good on the moss path.

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOne

Wonderful autumn colours! I find the beauty of autumn is the most fleeting among the four seasons but hold up its own right.

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Your leaves are gorgeous! Fall leaves are just as beautiful as summer flowers. I never rake leaves. Instead I either mulch them with a mower and leave them where they are or I use a mower with a bagger and dump the bagged leaves in the garden. To burn calories, I have five dogs to walk!

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTS

Such lovely photos of fall color. Our trees have been bare for a few weeks, but I still have some cleaning up to do. Its nice to know I will be burning so many calories when I finally rake the last of them up. Have a great Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Oh, those maples are so pretty!!! They are hard to beat for fall color, although that burning bush is pretty spectacular, too. Can't grow them down in my neck of the woods (Texas), but we've got our share of invasives, too. We just mow up our leaves and mulch them back onto the lawn and any extras go into the compost pile. Nature's gold :-)

November 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterToni - Signature Gardens

You are so lucky to have so many beautifully colored fall trees in your garden. My trees are so small here in our new home, so leaves are in short supply. I remember playing in the fallen leaves, and hope my grandchildren will have that same fun someday.

November 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL

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