Tree to human: don't take my leaves

A little dialogue from September 2020 - reposted for its timeliness!

Tree - What are you doing down there?

Human - Tidying.

Tree - That’s my stuff, leave it alone, I’m going to need it.

Human - Why did you drop it on the ground if you need it?

Tree - That’s where I want it to be.

Human - Don’t be ridiculous.

Human bustling.

Tree - Hey!

Human - What now?

Tree - What’s that you've got there?

Human - You know very well what it is. It's a leaf blower

Tree - Take it away, smelly noisy thing

Human - Well, I don't like your mess,

Tree - Stop! Stop!

Leaf blower fires up.


Tree - It took me all season to make those leaves. Carefully, so I could have the exact nutrients I need.

Human - Don’t be so ungrateful. I feed you every spring.

Tree - The food I make is much better.

Human - Don’t be so fussy.

Leaf blower again.

Tree - That’s enough! Leave me at least a little cover to protect my roots when the frost comes.

Human - Certainly not, that would kill the grass.

Tree - Who cares about the grass? I'm the one that lives 200 years, keeps you cool and shaded in the summer, shelters you from biting winds in winter, cleans the air, moderates water levels, stores the carbon, feeds the butterflies, provides nesting for birds…


Tree - You’re not listening.

Human - Sorry, I thought that was the wind.

Tree - You never listen.

Master Gardener Cathy Kavassalis explains why we should listen:

“Our gardens are little ecosystems, little biological communities of interacting organisms in a particular physical environment. We shape and care for them. And as we do, our choices impact local populations of plants and animals. They impact lifecycles and biochemical cycles. Let’s think about leaf litter and fall clean up with respect to those cycles.

… "In northern climates as days shorten and the air cools, trees drop their leaves and herbaceous plants collapse. They do this to conserve resources and survive winter conditions. Fallen leaves and plant material form a protective layer above the plant roots. These plants are essentially creating their own mulch to conserve moisture and moderate temperatures. When we remove leaf litter, we are reducing this natural winter protection. We are also preventing essential elements from returning to the soil.

… “In addition to improving soil health, fallen leaves and other detritus provides shelter or habitat for many species. Some like squirrels and birds gather the leaves for nests. Others like mining bees (Andrena spp.) may burrow under the leaf litter taking advantage of the protective layer, while leafcutter bees and mason bees tuck into the dead, dry, hollow stems of other plants. Plant “litter” is essential for many species to complete their lifecycles.

… “So when you can, let leaf litter remain in your gardens to build healthy soils and continue the cycle of life.”

Read the full post from Cathy Kavassalis
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