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seen Nov 12 '12 at 15:07

Registered Landscape Architect and Certified Master Gardener, 2012. I live in Zone 5-6 (depending upon the map consulted) in New England and feel equally comfortable gardening here as well as the central valley of California (where I grew up.)

comment How do you identify a plant?
It's called "Plant Keying" and there are many books for plant ID that use this process. It is kind of magical but also very time consuming. Some characteristics that differentiate one tree/shrub from another are minute. I am an experienced plant IDer but would rather use other methods!
comment Should I have added dead leaves directly to my garden?
One last thing: in future, I would make a large bin somewhere out of sight with wire mesh or chicken wire and put all fall leaves in there as you rake them. Press them down hard. By next season you will have ready-made humus to add to your garden soil.