And just like that… the leaves begin their decent to their final resting place and those of us that are blessed with trees are also blessed with leaves. Ah… but you say, “leaves are not a blessing, but a curse. They are messy, insect attractors and a nuisance. We often see them only as more work piled up on top of all the other duties around the yard.
‘October Glory’ Red Maple in its peak beauty
I did some investigative reporting with my family to see if they could identify some of the benefits of leaves. It didn’t go so good! No matter how I posed the question, the response was overwhelmingly blank stares. A bit frustrated, I trudged on with more prompting…more leading questions. Finally, Mady and Leona came up with some uses that certainly explained some of the natural benefits of leaves like eat them, jump in piles of them, make crafts and they are colorful. Not exactly the most comprehensive list, but some good ideas just the same.
Lets take a look at these marvelous creations called leaves.
Remember back a few short months ago when we had those 90 + degree-days? Were you aware that the temperature was 10-15 degrees cooler under a tree because of the leaves? If you cool your home with air conditioning, you are quite aware of the high cost of that process. If you have trees that shade your house on the southwest side, your energy bill is 10-15% lower due to the shade…leaves once again.
The incredible leaf is complex and perfectly created. The essential ingredients in making food through photosynthesis are sunlight, the chlorophyll that is present in green plants, water and carbon dioxide in the air.
Camperdown Elm leaves
Photosynthesis is an amazing process that happens in the leaves of trees. Water and nutrients are taken up by the root system and delivered to the leaves
to make food for the plant. The essential ingredients in making this food are sunlight, the chlorophyll that is present in green plants, water and carbon dioxide in the air. Photosynthesis is necessary not just for plants to make food for themselves, but for animals, including us.
When animals exhale, some of the carbon dioxide is taken into the leaves through the tiny pores called stomata and is delivered to the cells that contain chlorophyll in the inside layer of the leaf. Sunlight breaks down the water in the plant and the oxygen, which the plant gives off, is what we use to breathe. God’s thoughtful creation at work!
If you have ever stopped to consider the forest floor, then you have seen yet another miracle at work. When leaves fall and are undisturbed, they begin to break down with the help of billions of microscopic organisms. As time goes on, the leaves are transformed into a natural compost / fertilizer that feed and nourish the forest. This is composting at its finest… with no help from us. Why not rake leaves into your borders and let them break down naturally and save some money on fertilizer? Ah…but I suppose it looks nicer with bark chips showing…on the other hand, who cares what it looks like?
Now then…what about decorations for the harvest season or even Christmas. One of my favorite gifts I received last year was a poem called “Autumn Verse” that I had penned in early fall
Purple Ghost Japanese Maple
2008. Sheri, my bride, had collected some leaves, dried them and used them to bordered the poem. She finished it off with a black frame and it hangs in my office. I cherish it. By the way…when is the last time you collected some leaves and pressed and dried them with your children or grandchildren? What a fun and interesting form of art and appreciation for God’s wonderful creation.
Just one more appreciation for leaves…make a huge pile of them in your yard and take the kids out for a good play in the leaf pile! They will remember it the rest of their lives and so will you!