Have you ever heard of leaf peeping? Perhaps you've actually been on a leaf peeping expedition?
Leaf peeping is an American colloquialism which involves travelling to sites specifically to view, admire and photograph beautiful autumn colour.
We are fortunate to have plenty of leaf peeping opportunities locally, without having to travel too far at all.
The street trees and local gardens of towns across the New England and North west region all have examples of great autumn colour, as do the parks and public gardens across the region.
You can take a walk around your local area and enjoy this most beautiful of seasons, while still following the current guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions.
Australia has few native winter-deciduous trees that show autumn colour; notably Toona coliata - red cedar and Melia azedarach - white cedar, which are both subtropical rainforest species and Nothofagus gunnii - deciduous beech - native to Tasmania.
Thus most of our leaf peeping opportunities are from northern hemisphere deciduous trees.
Large trees that colour well in autumn include red and scarlet oaks (Quercus rubra and Q. coccinea), liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua), Gingko (maidenhair tree), Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo), claret, red and desert ashes (Fraxinus raywoodii, F. pennsylvanica and F. oxycarpa), Acer saccharum (sugar maple), and Taxodium distichum (swamp cypress).
Small to medium trees suitable for urban back yards include Chinese pistachio (Pistacia chinensis), Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum), service berry (Amelanchier canadensis), Persian witchhazel (Parrotia persica), Pyrus ussuriensis (Manchurian pear), Lagerstroemia (crepe myrtle), Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) and the spindle bush (Euonymus alatus), as well as prunus', birches, poplars and other maples.
Climbers such as Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and ornamental grape (Vitis vinifera) also provide fabulous autumn colour.
Now is the time to plan your requirements and order your choice of deciduous trees, as well as roses, shrubs and fruit trees for planting as bare-roots in July and August.
Of course, with autumn colour comes the inevitable leaf drop, so it's time to start making leafmould.
This is nothing more than fallen leaves from deciduous trees that have been piled together and allowed to rot over winter.
You can also put them into a large garbage bag with some holes in the bottom and sides to allow it to breathe.
Simply pile the leaves together and forget about them for a year or so.
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The end result of the process is a rich, black compost that can be incorporated into the soil to increase its fertility aeration and moisture holding capacity.
Some thicker leaves, like chestnut, are slower to break down - you can speed the process up by mixing some pulverised cow manure or chook pellets with the leaves and giving the pile a good soak.
Then let nature get on with it.
Meetings of garden clubs will resume when current social gathering restrictions permit.
Dar Brookes, Armidale Garden Club