The layer of decomposing leaves in a gentle garden is nature’s way of sustaining tree and plant roots and providing a wildlife habitat. Often we gardeners want a totally manicured garden where everything has a place and everything is in it’s place. We want to present a uniform appearance that looks tidy vs. slightly unkept.

By adding composted leaves and other material in and around your plants, you are bringing a promise of life’s continuity.  It’s like a little community, storing both food and cover.  Some butterflys build their cocoons deep in the compost so they can survive the winter.  Robins scratch aside the leaves to find earthworrms, towhees find their crickets the same way, thrushes search to find snails and sparrows inspect the cover for seeds. Other birds selet it as nesting material and frogs and toads prowl around in it.  We gentle gardeners call it a community within a community, serving wildlife…and mulch serves the gardener…so, by using natural leaves and compost…and letting some of it accumulate naturally, you are putting out a welcome mat to wildlife.

AND, TO SERVE THE GARDENER, the decomposing leaves have the ability to inhibit unwanted plant growth by separating seedlings from the soil and blockiing out the sunlight.  It reduces the loss of moisture through evaporation by preventing the sunlight from directly heating the soil.  It protects the soil by reducing the impact of hard rains and hail and prevents erosion by absorbing and deflecting both runoff water and wind.  Just think, a dead leaf contains phosphorus which is an essential element in the building of plant cell membrain…it  becomes the food source for recharging the soil with phosphorus, and the soil in turn feeds new plants that now becomes a food source for wildlife.

Our Gentle Gardens are woodland in nature where the trees grow so there isn’t a canopy unlike in a forest.  Wildflowers, butterflies and birds all know we have the welcome mat out…then we use natural wood chip mulch to gave a more tidy appearance to our gardens.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 2:48 pm and is filed under Gardening Tips. You can leave a comment and follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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