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Leaf it Messy…


17th October 2013

Last Updated: 13th May 2022

Britain was once almost entirely covered by deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves in autumn) but today only about 5% of the ancient forest remains. With wildlife so dependent on them for food, protection and habitats we should do all we can to preserve our trees and the richness in beauty and wildlife they offer.

Modern Britain is a land of open parks and gardens full of managed hedgerows with occasional mature specimen trees. These make pleasing features for our eye and create colour and interest throughout the year, often flowering in springtime and carrying colourful fruits in the autumn. However during winter, viewed from our centrally heated homes, it’s easy to overlook the vital role trees play through the colder months.

Frosty Leaf

When winter strips the trees of their leaves, they may appear lifeless to the casual observer, but for the tree itself and the wildlife it supports this could not be further from the truth. Many insects lay their eggs or bury into leaves before they fall to lie dormant, safe and warm in the leaf litter under the tree, rising once more (as vital food for birds) under the following spring sunshine. Small mammals such as hedgehogs, dormice and squirrels will collect the same leaves, using them as nesting materials to hibernate and even the fungi convert dead leaves back into food for the trees in future years.

Oak Dray

This autumn leave a little area in the garden for leaves to fall and rot naturally and don’t see it as a mess; view it as nature’s incubator full of potential; life just waiting to burst forth.

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