We left a lot more leaves in the collection this winter than we've ever done intentionally before. A few times this winter, I walked through with a blower and "adjusted" the leaves throughout the collection. This consisted mostly of moving stray leaves back to the areas where we'd decided we wanted them to stay. Occasionally I removed some or actually transported tarp loads some distance, but for the most part it was just minor adjustments with the blower.....except I didn't go back into the Japanese Woodland after December.
We went in today and it wasn't pretty. Leaves had blown, lodged, matted, clotted, and generally positioned themselves so as to give the impression that we'd totally abandoned the area. Which we had, but only for January and February. It doesn't take a lot of leaves to make a bad impression so it didn't take long to fix it. We tidied up quickly,
The Japanese Woodland below the Parking Area is a pleasant space. Large beds of ground-covers planted with shrubs and understory trees define the space under a high canopy, or at least what's left of a high canopy. I remember Lawrence Lee laying the area out when it was newly cleaned and empty. He put in all those ground-covers including pachysandra and liriope, but also including Kadsura, and Iris tectorum. We, dug quantities of divisions from existing planting in the older parts of the collection and planted all spring. I was impressed at his choice of Kadsura as a groundcover. It's held up well under the big Parrotia.
I think our experimental approach to the leaves was fairly successful. Basically, we blew them into areas where we wanted them to settle down in and stay. We hoped that heavy rains and snow would force them against the ground where they'd be "glued together" with water, and various biological effluents. Eventually that did happen. We did got through a few cycles in which the leaves were rained on, sat nicely, but then dried out and were blown around. Those are the ones I kept "returning" throughout the winter. The last heavy snow did a good job of mashing them down so that we've been able to address the "out of place" leaves fairly quickly and efficiently. Positives: we saved time, energy, and kept our leaves which will finish breaking down and add an organic component, and a few minerals, to our soils. Minuses: the collection required attention throught the winter to keep it from looking messy, some sections looked a bit messy anyway, we're going to end up doing some mulching in the spring that we might have done in the winter.