Leaf right now
Collect up all that dead foliage lying around your yard and put it to good use, writes Mary Lovell-smith.
• Gather up leaves, especially from paths, lawns and ponds, and add to compost or keep separate to make leaf mould.
• Plant out winter bedding. Nurseries and garden centres should have a good range now – if you haven’t grown your own from seed, that is.
• Divide and replant hostas. These are grown pretty much for their beautiful foliage – large, ribbed leaves, which are marbled, striped or edged with white (the generally lilac flowers are pretty enough but insignificant). Hostas need damp yet well-drained soil.
• Remove moss (and liverwort, lichen and algae) from where it is not wanted. While it gives charm and character to timber, stone, concrete walls, statues and sculpture, it can make paths slippery. Moss usually appears in damp, shady spots.
• Spraying is an option for those who favour chemical control, but all this does is kill it and turn it an ugly brown. Far better to scrape it off while it is green, than spray it and then have to scrape it off. • Discourage moss from growing in the first place. Regular brushing of hard surfaces with a stiff broom, raking of shingle areas and forking over of soil will help keep it at bay, as will improving drainage of affected areas by digging channels. Build hard features on a slight slope to aid run off, and/or use porous paving materials. • Chicken wire on wooden paths and bridges in shady spots, or coarse sand on paths over winter will make them less slippery. • Remember, mosses and their kin are, evolutionary-wise, way older than any other plants and very important in ecosystems. Many in your garden will be native, which makes them extra precious (and entertaining to try to identify). •