365 Nature – Day 310

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


After two dry days, that I in no way took enough advantage of, the rains returned today. Earlier in the week we raked up the leaves from our maple tree in the font yard and I realized this year I’ve only had to rake once so far. Last year the leaves seemed to drop slowly and we raked in several stages as they fell. Although not raking is a great strategy, insects overwinter in down leaves, every year I’ve used the leaves in different projects around the yard. The first year I placed cardboard in the corner of our yard to kill the grass and then placed leaves on the top. The following years I expanded the garden and reduced the lawn using the same method. This year we’re going to cover the rest of the grass with leaves for two reasons. First, I want to landscape next year, creating a rain garden and a pond and the less grass the better. Second, we have a new puppy that has been tearing the grass up in this soggy autumn and now half the backyard is a mud pit that the leaves should help cover up.

Today, the few remaining leaves hung from the lowest branches of our maple tree and I sat watching the breeze twist and turn them. Occasionally one would pull free and float down to the ground. I got out my camera and with the dark day, I tried to catch some of the motion of the rain and wind in the leaves today.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She founded The Metropolitan Field Guide in 2009 and has contributed articles to aincluding Crosscut, ParentMap and National Wildlife Magazine. She holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

She is currently writing a book about urban nature to be published by Mountaineers Books in 2019.
Kelly Brenner
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  1. Very exciting about your garden projects!

    I’ve been doing some slow gardening over the past couple of years. Luckily when we moved in the yard was mostly a blank canvas. I have a small shady backyard so it will be fun to see what is happy back there – right now I have zig zag golden rod (which the pollinators love in the fall!), panicle aster, three types of ferns and some meadow rue. I want to add some shrubs to introduce berries in our yard. We’re lucky as we have a butternut (neighbours but right on the edge so half of the tree is on our side also), pine, spruce, cedar and an apple tree. Squirrel haven!

    • I love the blank canvas, it’s nice to create something from scratch, but at the same time, so much work! Fortunately, for habitat, it only takes a little bit of improvement to see immediate results. It helps to keep me going with the rest of the yard.

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