The times, they are a’ changing…

PHOTO BY TINA CLINEFELTER The late afternoon sun gilds the mountain in front of the columnist’s house.

There was a time earlier this fall when I thought the leaf colors were not going to be so spectacular this year, but I’ve been wrong before. In the late afternoon sunshine, a couple of days ago, the colors just sang in their glory. Such a joy to behold! But, when the backyard becomes covered in a deep layer of fallen leaves, maybe the joy abates a little?

May I suggest that the leaves be mowed and allowed to become mulch in the garden beds or left on the lawn to enrich the soil as they break down over the winter months. It’s a pity to send Mother Nature’s bounty to the dump. When my kids were little I used to fill large pumpkin bags with chopped leaves and dot them around the landscape until spring. They looked kinda cute in the snow…

Another suggestion comes to mind concerning the live Christmas tree you may be considering this year — dig the hole now, store the soil in a frost-free place, put a healthy layer of chopped leaves in the hole until the time comes to plant the tree immediately after the festive season, and in this way you may be successful in saving the tree to become a living memory. My Christmas tree from more than 60 years ago is still alive at my parents’ former house in England.

A reminder of a couple of other chores to be done soon — empty and store all hoses and empty the water barrels, and remove fallen leaves from the gutters when they finish falling. Blocked gutters and down-spouts can cause major problems.

And so nothing remains for me to say except “farewell.” This is my last column– I am opening up the field to any other Master Gardener who may wish to put pen to paper.

I have been writing, on and off, for the last 20 years, and have met lots of wonderful people along the way. Thanks to The Express and in particular thanks to Wendy Stiver for her patience and encouragement. I have learned many things, and my typing has improved a hundred-fold.

TTFN — with love from Tina xoxo


Tina Clinefelter is a Penn State Master Gardener emerita and has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the Points of Light Foundation. She can be reached at