Landscaping with Leaves


IN ANOTHER LIFE, I might be having lunch at Balthazar. In this life, I am sculpting with leaves.

Using a hose or rope to lay out the curve of a path hasn’t worked for me. They just didn’t stay put, or make the kind of curve I wanted. I tried neon paint, below; that was a disaster. The line I managed to draw bore no relationship to the sweeping, natural curve I had in mind.


So I’ve been working a kind of negative space thing, building up future planting beds on either side of a projected flagstone path — which will run from my future parking court to the front door, then onward to the back, a distance of about sixty feet — with piles of scavenged oak leaves, leaving bare what will be the path. (The leaves, I hope, will be the basis for soil by next spring. I know I’ll have to add loads of amendments.)


Not having many leaves left on my own property, I’ve been dragging a tarp and stealing from my neighbors’ roadside piles, left out for the town to pick up (luckily, not for another 10 days). I dump them roughly where I want them, then fine-tune the line with a rake, contemplatively, like a Zen monk.


Amazingly, the leaves stay more or less where I put them, through wind and rain.


Today I brought in from outside a few tender garden plants I think might survive the winter in a corner of my unheated porch, above. I have an old storm window and plastic sheeting at the ready if the temperature really drops.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in COTTAGE LIVING, GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, LANDSCAPING, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Landscaping with Leaves

  1. delftblue says:

    once you have the shape you want, you might want to should use a seed blanket and pegs.

  2. Astor C says:

    Well, if Budhists (and Bar Mitzvah artists) can sculpt in butter, I guess leaves are the next best thing…

  3. Ellen says:

    Love the Purple Fountain Grass — have been planting it surrounded by coleus on my patio and have never managed to get it to winter over. But maybe out in your balmy neck of the woods……and I too have great hope that my lemon vinca vines will be back next spring……sigh – am already sick of the long dark winter and it is not even here yet!

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