Since we were out of town for a while, the last of the season's garden chores didn't get done until Saturday, when my hunk o' burnin' love shredded the leaves he'd raked into a huge pile just before we left.
The late-winter cycle of thaw-freeze, thaw-freeze can cause the contracting and expanding soil to heave fall-planted (and as yet, not firmly rooted) perennials and bulbs right out of the ground, where they'll die of exposure. A good layer of insulation can prevent that, so my husband piled several inches of shredded oak leaves over the newly-planted areas of the front and back gardens. In the spring, he'll rake up the leaves and add them to our compost pile.
The woodpile behind the garage proves that the fireplace at Chez Coulter burns nothing but the best woods: dense oak and sturdy black walnut from our own back yard. This past summer a mature black walnut was uprooted by a storm; last month we had several huge old limbs removed from an oak tree.
The trunks of these black walnuts aren't pretty, but they're kind of interesting, I think. And our extra-nutty back yard is a favorite of the neighborhood squirrels.
I love the way this maiden grass curls and fluffs and turns pale in the winter. Best of all, it makes a delightful shushing sound when the wind blows through it.
The first snow of the season began falling while my husband was dealing with the leaves and I was taking these photos. We now have almost two inches on the ground, and I like to think that all of my flowers and plants are now sleeping peacefully underneath their snowy blanket.