|barred owl Radnor Lake|
Dead trees have an enormously important role in forests. Trees fall for a variety of reasons: disease, lightning, fire, animal damage, too much shade, drought, root competition, as well as old age. A big oak in my garden was struck by lightening a dozen years ago and limb by limb it's been falling down.
The snag that remains still provides shelter and nesting for a number of critters; while the limbs on the ground are a perfect shelter for small animals such as rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels and a habitat for beetles, termites and other insects.
|wood ear fungus Auricularia auricula|
Should a tree fall into a lake it begins its second life. Downed limbs provide perches for turtles and other critters.
|fallen tree limbs provide a perch for a turtle on a sunny winter day|
|Ducks rest and preen on a log floating in the middle of this lake.|
Unless a dying tree is a danger to buildings and people, we needn't be in such a hurry to take them down. Let them be, let them drop their limbs, let them become hosts to nesting critters, let them become part of the garden and forest floor.
When a tree falls in the forest, good things do happen.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.