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Garden Checklist: Save some colorful fall leaves for later

Fall color can be preserved for later.
Fall color can be preserved for later. Sacramento Bee file

This has been a spectacular fall foliage season in Sacramento, thanks to a combination of weather-related factors.

“The main indication of a good fall color year is a sharp temperature change,” said Warren Roberts, superintendent emeritus of the UC Davis Arboretum. “Our nights got chilly quite suddenly after summerlike temperatures. I do think the drought may have played a part in (the color display), too.”

Maples, Chinese pistache, scarlet oaks, liquidamber and other trees have put on a brilliant show. “The American elm is just glorious with golden leaves,” Roberts said. “You don’t see them often, but it is a treat.”

▪ Want to keep some of that color around a little longer? To preserve fall leaves, first remove any remaining moisture. Place individual leaves between sheets of paper towel or blotting paper and place them inside a big heavy book. Keep them inside the book until dry, about a week.

Or pop the leaves in the microwave. Place them between sheets of paper towel, put in microwave and zap on medium power for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the dryness of the leaves.

▪ Dry leaves can be used for scrapbooks and decorations, but they’ll last longer with a little extra protection. One at a time, place leaves between two sheets of wax paper. Put a dish towel underneath and another dish towel over the top. Then, press with an iron on medium heat. Press each side about 2 to 3 minutes. Peel leaves off wax paper. The leaves will be coated with a fine layer of protective wax and will stay colorful for years to come.

▪  Get to work on a winter vegetable garden. Transplant asparagus roots along with seedlings for bok choy, kale and leaf lettuce.

▪  Seed directly into garden fava beans, broccoli, mustard, radicchio and radishes.

▪ Plant onion and garlic.

▪  Start indoors early spring annuals such as calendula and cosmos.