begin to fall……..
a melancholy descends and embraces our thoughts. Summer is drawing to an end, days are getting shorter and darker, winds blow colder, and the outlook is generally pretty miserable.
There is still much to admire in our open spaces, particularly if crisp nights have allowed leaves to turn beautiful shades. But, the warm weather we’ve been having recently means the leaves aren’t anything to shout about. Unless, of course you want to draw attention to the poor way they are being managed in the park this year.
The park operatives have been instructed to blow leaves off the paths onto the grass and shrub beds at either side, and so far have been leaving them there to rot. When the leaves are crisp and dry, they easily get blown back with the next gust of wind making this a Sisyphean task more suited to someone doing a spell of community service (and even then the value is questionable) than someone employed at tax payers’ expense. After rain, the leaves form a thick layer of rotting sludge which will kill anything trying to grow underneath and will take a long time to degrade.
On a recent work day, loads of leaves were collected up over several hours by volunteers, and this was from just one section of the park; they were piled up at the side of the pavilion and taken away by park workers a few days later. But this enormous task is not one that can be done by volunteers on a regular basis. This used to be a job that the council workers regularly carried out (in the good old days, before the council imposed cuts in services earlier this year) - the leaves were collected up, taken away, and the park looked clean and tidy.
But, cuts in budgets don’t have to equate with a decline in standards; there is more than one way to skin this cat. There are actually benefits in leaving leaves where they fall, although they must first be cut up into tiny pieces, as New York State’s conservationists have found here. In terms of cost, using a mulching mower might be no more an expensive activity than frequent leaf blowing. A financial benefit might even be derived from selling excess mulch to the public.
Leaves left on the ground, whether on paths, grass or in shrub and flower beds aren’t just an eyesore. They stifle and damage new growth and also act as perfect camouflage for dog excrement. It’s difficult to quantify how much dog mess there is to be found in leaves on the ground, because it’s so hard to see it!! But, instances of people treading in the stuff have definitely increased, as I can attest, and is also evidenced by the dirt on paths.
Some of us may remember the Spot the Ball competitions popular in newspapers in the 70′s and 80′s. Well, the difficulties of finding dog dirt in leaves makes me think that a Spot the Poo competition might be the next big thing in Stockport parks. Have a go at Spot the Poo in this photo:
Unlike the aforementioned Spot the Ball competitions, the object has NOT been removed from the photo. The challenge is not to guess where it was, but where it actually is!
There are health and safety issues here: dog faeces can cause toxocariasis in humans; and searching for dog faeces, bent double for prolonged periods of time, can cause back problems and eye strain.
My message to the council is: Please reconsider your policy of not collecting up leaves blown from paths; gather leaves up, remove them to be composted off-site, or, use a mulching mower in the park. Do not make it difficult for dog walkers to clear up after their dogs.
And while you think this over, enjoy listening to some old and new songs inspired by Autumn Leaves: