Sunday, December 30, 2012

Create the Council Logo Competition: We need You!

Standing out has always been the "name of the game" for organizations and businesses to rise above the competition and media clutter!

Creating a logo is an essential first step to branding your business, and now is the time for the Durham Council of Garden Clubs to promote its "green" brand and help grow membership and financial support for our preservation, conservation and beautification projects.

The DCGC Publicity team (Marcia and Jennifer) announced during the November Council meeting that we are hosting a fun-spirited competition to create a new logo for the Council. This logo can then be transferred to banners, letterhead and other official marketing materials.

So put on your artist's apron and think about the images than can smartly represent our organization!
Please submit your design ideas to the new Council mailbox: Provide your contact information and any special instructions for our graphics team to enhance your logo ideas.
DEADLINE:  February 1, 2013 - prior to the February 5, Council Meeting.

At the Feb. Council Meeting, we will distribute a sheet of sample logos and conduct a vote of the top (6) designs. The top six logos will then be added to a paper ballot to be distributed at the March Joint Meeting (Mar. 5) for a final vote. The DCGC logo design winner will be announced during this meeting!
No limits on color and composition, but designs should translate clearly in black & white. Sample logos pictured contain the official NC butterfly (Eastern Yellow Swallow Tail) and official City of Durham flower (the daylily).

DCGC Launches new Twitter account

Twitter fans can now follow the Durham Council of Garden Clubs on Twitter!

Go to: or search for our account, DurhamCouncilGC.  

 The DCGC will be Tweeting all of our news and kudos to members (in addition to the Council Blog).

 Be sure to send your information to:, and we will publish your good works on all of our social media!

DCGC Twitter Page

Friday, December 21, 2012

Heritage has cookie bake and tasting at Maple Court

Classes at Witherspoon

These are the classes thru March.  Witherspoon has classes all year so contact them or go to their website for more information

Classes begin at 10am and are scheduled to take place at both the Durham and Charlotte locations unless otherwise specified.  See below for class descriptions and dates.

January 26, Saturday – Winter Fest!  Prepare yourself for this upcoming spring season with great sales on Garden Shop products and giftware.

February 2, Saturday How to Plant a Premium Rose Garden.  Interested in learning how Witherspoon plants a rose?  Join us February 2nd for a detailed demonstration of what it takes to plant a bareroot rose.
February 16, Saturday Prune Your Roses Right!  Pruning your roses is one of the more important tasks of proper rose care.  The correct procedure ensures the best possible growth for your rose bush.  Let Witherspoon Rose Culture demonstrate the best way to prune your roses.
February 23, Saturday Prune Your Roses Right!  Pruning your roses is one of the more important tasks of proper rose care.  The correct procedure ensures the best possible growth for your rose bush.  Let Witherspoon Rose Culture demonstrate the best way to prune your roses.

March 9, Saturday Fertilizing:  A Jumpstart for Your Roses.  Learn why Witherspoon Rose Culture’s Premium Fertilizer is our number one choice for roses.  Fertilizer is the fuel roses need for strong growth and large, healthy blooms. Fertilize your roses and be rewarded with beautiful flowers. 
March 30, Saturday Spice Up Your Life with Herbs:  An Herbal Workshop!   Thinking of starting an herb garden? Start here!   $20 fee includes a colorful container and an herb of your choice. Learn the basics of using and growing herbs.
Call to reserve your spot today!  1-800-643-0315

News from the Extension Office - classes

by Gene Carlone: Continuing Education

All Durham Garden Forum meetings are eligible for continuing
education credit. Individual sessions cost $10.00; membership
(May-April) costs $25.00. All sessions begin at 6:30 p.m. at the
Doris Duke Center at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, ending
promptly at 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013: “Art in the Residential Garden,” with Jesse Turner, landscape architect;
Tuesday, February 19, 2013: “Perennials in the Garden,” with Pat Lindsay, former asst. professor of
landscape design, NCSU;
Tuesday, March 19, 2013: “Cut Flowers in the Home Garden,” with Dr. John Dole, professor of horticulture science, NCSU;
Tuesday, April 16, 2013: “Ground Covers,” with Doug Chapman of Plantworks.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
All EMGVs pay the “Friend” (as opposed to the “General
Public”) rate for classes. Extension gardener seminars are free
but registration is required. To register for classes and seminars
please call Sara Smith at (919) 668-5309. Please note: There is a
complete list of approved courses on the intranet.
Sunday, January 13, 2013: “Introduction to Home Orchard Production”;
Sunday, February 17, 2013: “Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Durham County.”

These free presentations are on Sundays from 3:00-4:00 p.m. at 4505 South Alston Avenue, Durham. To register, please call (919) 560-7409.
Sunday, February 3, 2013: “Home Composting”;
Sunday, March 3, 2012: “Backyard Chickens—Eggs Over Easy”;
Sunday, April 28, 2013: “Container Gardening with Herbs.”

Friday, December 14, 2012


Members of the Garden Makers Garden Club planting one of the large planters at the Civic Center Plaza.  This is a project which they have worked at for several years, changing the flowers in four planters in the spring and the fall.  In the photo, they are standing at the entrance to the Carolina Theater.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012



On the 4th(yesterday) Woodland Garden Club, Henderson, NC had there Dec. club meeting at the Henderson Senior Center. They did there annual Christmas arrangement and decorated the center for the season. Afterwards, went to Ribeyes Steak House for a Christmas luncheon. They normally exchange gifts among themselves. This year they agreed to bring a present for a child in our local hospital which they did and couple of the members delivered them to the hospital.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday to everyone.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Poinsettia Project of Heritage Garden Club

Martha, Dutton, Marcia, Pat, Jean and Diane decorated the Durham VA Chapel with Poinsettias
on Nov 30 just in time for the Army Band to play a concert on Dec 2nd. This is the third year
Heritage has done this project.

“As the days get shorter and fall fades into winter, the Heritage Garden Club has found a unique way to honor our Veterans.  The slogan “We the People Celebrate those who fought for our freedoms and all we hold dear” is at the top of a list of over 100 individuals honored this holiday season.   The Heritage Garden Club, under the leadership of Ms. Marcia Loudon, donated over 100 Poinsettias to the Durham VA Medical Center’s Chapel.  The Heritage Garden Club procured, transported and arranged these beautiful poinsettias, and they have also pledged to water and tend to the plants several times a week throughout the holiday season.  Each poinsettia, donated by friends and families of Veterans in our community, brings joy to our hospitalized Veterans.   Please visit the Chapel and enjoy this wonderful tribute to Veterans.” From Rev. John Oliver and the VA Facebook page.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Garden Club Annual Report


Just drag to desktop and print


I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and families!

Just a few quick notes and reminders:

The deadline for award applications is Dec. 1 - send completed items via email or regular mail to the GCNC Chair listed in your Gardener.

You should already be gathering information in order to complete your Club Annual Report Form - it is due to me by January 25th.  Remember to complete the Best Program Form and send it with your Club Annual Report.

If you have lost members due to death, please complete a Death Notification Form and send to me.

May 11 and 12 - Hillsborough Garden Tour.  We will be having a Flower Show (sponsored by the Orange County Council of Garden Clubs), a quilt show, tea at Inn at Teardrop, classic cars, scavenger hunt for children, plant sale, and non-plant vendors.

October 17 - District 9 Annual Meeting at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill

Have a very special and blessed Christmas!

                                                            Andrea Lewis, District 9 Director

What to Feed Backyard Birds

Add caption

What do birds eat? Backyard birds eat mostly seeds but many are also fruit and/or insect eaters. Here's a basic look at types of foods you may offer your feathered friends.
From Dave's Garden e-newsletter


Seeds and Grains

Sunflower Seeds — These seeds come from differing sunflowers. They generally can be found in two types: black oil and stripe. The black oil sunflower seeds (or BOSS) are more popular with birds because of their thin shells and higher oil content. Striped sunflower seeds are ideal for larger birds with stronger bills to crack the hard shells. Shelled sunflower seeds eliminate the mess of discarded hulls while hearts and chips are often available for smaller songbirds. Many premium mixes contain these bits of seed. If you buy only ONE type of seed, let it be this one. You won't be disappointed.
Safflower — This white seed is prized because squirrels, grackles and starlings reportedly don't like it. It is also a high-energy seed that attracts desirable songbirds like cardinals, nuthatches, grosbeaks, finches and titmice.
Nyjer — A favorite of gold finches, nyjer is the very small black seed of the nyjer plant cultivated in Asia and Africa. It is another seed prized for its high calorie and oil content. The small seed size makes it necessary to use a special feeder for this seed. Finches favor this seed in tube feeders or socks and ground feeding birds like dark-eyed juncos and doves forage for seed on the ground. Because it is an import, it is an expensive seed for purchase in the United States. Don't count on growing your own as it is heat-sterilized before packaging, a condition of import. This seed is also known as thistle, though it is not a thistle or member of the thistle family.
Millet (white and red) — Although millet can be a term for a group of cereal grains, most millet on the market is proso millet. Proso millet comes in red and white varieties and is often found in seed mixes on retail shelves. It is difficult to find sold alone so you'll need to try online sources or specialty feed stores to obtain it. Birds that prefer millet are ground-feeding species such as sparrow, dove, cardinal, pheasant, quail and more.
Peanuts and Tree Nuts — Nuts are high in protein and fat, and are valued by a number of backyard birds. It is important to note that all nuts fed to birds must be unsalted. Offer whole peanuts to jays, nuthatches and other birds bold enough to crack the shell. When you see a bird fly off with a whole peanut, you'll understand why they are tops on the entertainment scale. Shelled peanuts also attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and house sparrows to name a few. Peanuts and other nuts are susceptible to mold and may turn rancid in the summer. Only distribute as many as the birds will eat in a few days.
Milo — Milo is a sorghum grain that looks a great deal like red millet. It is a cheaper seed but not as palatable to birds and therefore often considered a waste seed in the Eastern half of the country. If you live in the Western United States, you'll find sparrows, doves, towhees, pheasant and quail favor milo.
Corn — Cracked corn is a cheaper feed and appealing to ground feeding birds. If you wish to discourage blackbirds and doves, don't distribute corn at your feeding stations. If you are trying to attract doves, quail and sparrows, scatter cracked corn on the ground. Ducks and wild turkey will love whole shelled corn (as will the squirrels).
Canary Grass — You will find canary grass seed in many of the mixes for finches and siskins. A good source of protein, this seed is often fed to small domestic birds as well.
Black and Red Rapeseed/Canola — This round black seed of the Brassica genus family is often found in mixes. It is another seed high in oil and is favored by chickadees, nuthatches and finches. 

Mixes — There are a number of different bagged seed mixes widely available for specific birds. If you are lucky enough to live near a feed store or specialty bird store, you might be able to buy in bulk and create your own mixes suitable for the exact types of birds in your garden. Mixes may contain dried fruits and nuts, as well as seed. Many blends also add chili powder to deter squirrels. For a great discussion of seed mixes, visit this thread on the Dave's Garden Bird Watching Forum (available to both members and subscribers).
Hemp — The industrial hemp seed is actually a nut that is high in fat and are incredibly attractive to birds. Like Nyjer, hemp seeds are heat sterilized or steamed to prevent sprouting. Similar to nuts, the high oil content means that seeds can go rancid quickly. Industrial hemp seed is legal in the United States and is not to be confused with its cousin, marijuana.
Buckwheat, Wheat, Alfalfa and Oats — Not generally a choice for songbirds, these grains are common feed for game birds such as quail, pheasants, doves and pigeons.

nsect Eaters

Mealworms — Insect eaters supplement their diet with mealworms in the winter months when food is scarce. Bluebirds love mealworms; adults gobble them up readily and will feed them to older babies in breeding season. Bluebirds aren't the only birds who enjoy these insects. Robins, mockingbirds and wrens will help themselves too, devouring the mealies in no time. If you are interested in feeding bluebirds only, consider a caged feeder that will limit entry to smaller birds. Mealworms can be purchased live, canned or dried. Live mealworms are available at pet stores and through mail-order/online suppliers.

Fruit and Nectar Eaters

Dried Fruit — Dried fruit such as raisins and cranberries are good choices for berry-eating birds. Soak them overnight or use them dried in dish or platform feeders. You'll often find these in premium seed mixes at well-supplied stores.
Fresh Fruit — Fresh oranges, grapes and apples are summer favorites of orioles, tanagers, woodpeckers, robins and waxwings to name a few. When the temperature drops, don't let that stop you from putting out fresh fruit.
Nectar — Hummingbirds are by far the most well known nectar eaters. It's not uncommon for orioles to try and sip from hummingbird feeders or their own version of the feeder. Other songbirds and woodpeckers may also be seen at the sugar water feeders.

Other Food Needs

Suet — Made at home or store-purchased, suet is great source of fat for nearly all birds. It is an important staple in the winter because it is a source of heat and energy. Suet can be as simple as animal fat hung in mesh bags or a tasty recipe mix of seed, fruits, animal fat and peanut butter. In summer months, birds may enjoy a number of no-melt suet products on the market today.
Grit — Since birds don't have teeth to chew, they use their gizzards to assist in grinding whole or harder seeds. This is where grit (small bits of sand, pebbles or shells) comes into the picture. Birds swallow grit into their gizzard where it grinds the whole seeds. You may make grit for birds with eggshells by following strict procedures found at the Cornell website.

Landscape Plants

One of the best ways to attract birds to your yard is to plant items with birds in mind. Bushes with berries, trees for cover plants that produce their own seed are ideal. Instead of deadheading, plan on leaving seed on many of your flowers. Plant a row of sunflowers for a fun late-summer show from goldfinch, chickadees and cardinals.
Popular Landscape Plants Used by Many Birds

American elderberry
American larch
American mountain ash
Ash, white and green
Birch: paper, yellow, river
Black cherry
Black gum (tupelo)
Blackberry and raspberries
California live oak
California wax myrtle
Crab apple
Currants (gooseberries) Dogwoods: pagoda, red-osier, silky, gray
Eastern red cedar
Japanese yew
Description: uideRiverbank grape
Roses: swamp, pasture, meadow, prairie wild
Showy mountain ash
Southern magnolia
Sumacs, smooth and staghorn
Sweet gum
Viburnums: nannyberry, downy arrowwood
Virginia creeper
Wild red cherry


End of Year Sale

After Black Friday lines and crowds, head out to Kiefer Nursery and Miss Lily's Pad for a tranquil holiday shopping experience.
After Black Friday lines and crowds, head out to Kiefer Nursery and Miss Lily's Pad for a tranquil holiday shopping experience.

Great Gift Ideas from Kiefer and Miss Lily's Pad Home and Gift Shop:
   Unique statues from Massarellli's
   Metal Garden Art
   Organic Body Care products
   Handcrafted Birdhouses, Bird Feeders & Bird Baths
   Holiday Flags
   Unique Christmas Decorations
Take the stress out of Christmas shopping with Kiefer's personalized shopping experience...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Judy Bond, 2nd VP, Awards

                  It is time to begin compiling your club’s GCNC award applications.  As you all probably know by now, GCNC has a new process this year to correlate with regional and national.  Most awards require only a 3-page, one-sided application.  The applications are to be mailed or emailed to the Category Chairman listed with the awards.  The list of available awards, the application form and the rules for applying as well as listings of the SAR and NGC awards can be found on our website,, under the Awards tab.  The GCNC awards are also listed in the NC Gardener or you can email me and I will send you the relevant information and answer any questions you may have.
                  Please give special attention to Awards # 1 Maslin Award and # 2 Member Award of Honor.  Both of these awards honor an individual garden club member who has done outstanding work in furtherance of garden club objectives.  The Maslin Award is focused on work at the state level; applications are due to me by February 25th.  The Member Award of Honor is for your “worker bee” club member.  Applications are sent to your District Director; the District winner goes to the State; the State winner goes to the region; and the region winner is a national winner.  Every club has a member worth honoring; please nominate your fabulous members!

Youth Award Applications for SAR are due December 1.   For GCNC Youth Awards the deadline is March 1.  Please see the GCNC website for specifics about both Senior Club and Youth awards.  The deadline for Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl is listed on the website.  


You are invited to join
Send A Greeting Electronically
Recognize Our Servicemen’s Every Sacrifice
Send your NGC Board Member friends or anyone an email greeting at Christmas – save the cost of the card and stamp.
Send $1.00 for each email greeting. Money collected will purchase Blue Star Markers.
Each participant will be an entry for their state. President Shirley will draw the winner at the May convention. All monies collected will be spent in the same year for the erection and landscaping of markers.
The Blue Star Marker program is the premier National project that advertises NGC’s name from coast to coast.
Be a three way winner:
*Remember your friends at Christmas.
*Remind the public that NGC is a nation-wide organization.
*Remember those whose sacrifices give us our many freedoms.
Send your check made out to “NGC Sage and Roses” to: NGC Headquarters
Lois Dupré Shuster
Sage and Roses Chairman

New lectures from the Durham Master Gardeners

From the Durham Master Gardeners
Tuesday, December 4, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.: “Design Workshop in the Asiatic Arboretum:
Moss Grove.” For more information please go to the intranet. This is a rare opportunity to see several design masters collaborate on the design and development of a new moss and maple grove garden.

Extension Gardener Seminars: South Regional Library

These free presentations are on Sundays from 3:00-4:00 p.m. at 4505 South Alston Avenue, Durham. To register, please call 

(919) 560-7409.
o Sunday, February 3, 2013: “Home Composting”;
o Sunday, March 3, 2012: “Backyard Chickens—Eggs Over Easy”;
o Sunday, April 28, 2013: “Container Gardening with Herbs.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Be Handsome: 11 Really Terrible 19th-Century Beauty Tips

I just couldn't help my self after I found this.  Hope you enjoy life as it was 125 years ago and be thankful we live today.
 Getty Images

A lot of things have changed since the 19th century. When Barkham Burroughs wrote his Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information in 1889, he devoted a full chapter to the “secrets of beauty,” and for good reason. To quote Burroughs, “If women are to govern, control, manage, influence and retain the adoration of husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers or even cousins, they must look their prettiest at all times.” Here are 11 of his tips for doing just that.
1. Bathe often(ish)…
At least once a week, but if possible, a lady should “take a plunge or sponge bath three times a week.”
2. … in a household cleaning solution.
What’s better than soap? Ammonia. “Any lady who has once learned its value will never be without it.” Just a capful or so in the bath works as well as soap and cleans the pores “as well as a bleach will do.”
3. Wash your eyes…
Nothing is as attractive as a sparkling eye. The best way to achieve this is by “dashing soapsuds into them.” If that’s not your style, perfume dropped into the eyes is a reasonable alternative. For the same bright-eyed look without the burn, “half a dozen drops of whisky and the same quantity of Eau de Cologne, eaten on a lump of sugar, is quite as effective.”
4. … but don’t wash your hair.
Water is “injurious” to the hair. Instead, wipe “the dust of the previous day” away on a towel. You can also brush your hair during any long, idle breaks in the day. 30 minutes is a good hair-brushing session.
5. And never, ever wash your face.
Simply rub the skin with “an ointment of glycerine” and “dry with a chamois-skin or cotton flannel.” One “beautiful lady” is admired who had “not washed her face for three years, yet it is always clean, rosy, sweet and kissable.”
6. And try not to wash your hands, either.
A well kept hand is soft, pale, and really, really dirty. Red hands can be relieved “by soaking the feet in hot water as often as possible,” but don’t dare touch water with your hands. As with the face, a regimen of ointment and cotton flannel should be used, and gloves worn for bathing. (Burroughs notes here that “dozens of women” with gorgeous hands “do not put them in water once a month.”)
7. Hang out naked by the window every day.
This is also called vapor-bathing, which is a different kind of vapor than the aforementioned ammonia soak, and one more likely to bring the attention of unwanted suitors. To take a proper vapor bath, “the lady denudes herself, takes a seat near the window, and takes in the warm rays of the sun.” If you’re a lady of the restless sort, dancing is advised. A good vapor bath is at least an hour long.
8. Go heavy-metal on the eyes.
Nothing says “handsome lady” like a lined lid. The proper solution is “two drachms of nitric oxid of mercury mixed with one of leaf lard.” Lacking these components, a woman may just as easily produce a nice effect with “a hairpin steeped in lampblack.”
9. Say goodbye to that fringe.
In your great-grandmother’s day, lashes had a tendency to become “unruly.” They were therefore “slightly trimmed every other day” with sharp, tiny scissors, because who wants eyelashes, anyway.
10. Suction!
Nice lips are essential to a woman’s prettiness. As early as possible, a girl should begin thinking about the shape of her lips and how it might be improved. Thin lips “are easily modified by suction,” which “draws the blood to the surfaces” and over time provides a “permanent inflation.” Thick lips “may be reduced by compression.” There are no instructions for this procedure.
11. And try not to be single.
The author’s female acquaintance, after disclosing to her favorite suitor that she had gone those three long years without using soap, found herself back on the market. A note from the gentleman read, “I can not reconcile my heart and my manhood to a woman who can get along without washing her face.”
So remember, ladies: Whatever methods are used, “it would be just as well to keep the knowledge of it from the gentlemen.” Because being married is better than ammonia-water for the complexion.

Read the full text here:
--brought to you by mental_floss!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Durham Council of Garden Clubs awards outstanding members

Durham Council of Garden Clubs awards outstanding members

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs presented its 2011-2012 Outstanding Achievement Awards to three of its member clubs at the recent Nov. 6 meeting. Award recipients included: Town & Country Garden Club (large club), Daylily Garden Club (medium-sized club), and Heritage Garden Club (small-sized club). The chosen garden clubs provided gardening and beautification expertise to a number of Durham area charitable projects such as the Durham VA Hospital Poinsettia Project, the Briggs Ave. Community Garden, scholarships in Agriculture majors, and many members volunteer at Duke Gardens or as Master Gardeners.

Pictured from left to right are: Jean Gurtner, co-president of DCGC,
Mary Denson, VP of DCGC, Marty Warburton, co-president of DCGC, Sue Stanley, President of Town & Country GC, Robin Marin Scholarship of Town & Country GC, Ruth Yarborough Council Representative of Daylily GC, and Marcia Loudon President of Heritage GC.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


By Carrie Lamont (carrielamont)
Dave's Garden e-newsletter
November 12, 2012
How did "fall" come to be? I mean, how did it come about that the more evolutionarily successful plants were those that discarded their leaves when the winter equinox approached? How did this whole arrangement get started, anyway? Not all plants lose their leaves, so what is going on?

If you thought that "fall" was "fall" because the leaves, well, they descend from deciduous trees in the autumn, you are mistaken, according to Peter Raven of the Missouri Botanical Garden, for one. The leaves don't mind sticking around, but the trees kick them off! Yep, this isn't just about falling, it's more about shoving, evicting or dumping your steady date. I know that probably conflicts with your mental image of a picturesque fall season. If the leaves don't turn scarlet and gold where you live, you may even have worked hard to find signs of beauty in, for instance, poison ivy. (Eww.)
But what I am speaking of is that part of the ecosystem violently rebuffs another part of the same ecosystem. Until just a month ago the ecosystem members seemed completely interdependent. Now one party (the tree) is evicting the other parties (all of the leaves) with the help of the unindicted coconspiritors, the wind and the rain or snow. (I don't know whether I'm drafting a Restraining Order here, a Divorce Agreement, or a Declaration of Independence) .
I don't mean "why do they turn pretty colors," because most first graders in temperate zones can give you adorable little speeches about the green in the leaf (which was hiding all the other more interesting colors) going back into the tree, and the reds, yellows, oranges and browns which were there all along showing up. Older children may even talk about photosynthesis, pigmentation or chloroblasts in an attempt to obfuscate, and more sophisticated, artistic types may use words like "crimson," "scarlet," "ochre," "gold" or "emerald."  But that is still not the question. Which is not how, it's why even bother? You're a tree, and everything's fine, why would you want to go and lose a bunch of perfectly good leaves?

Please don't forget that leaves, and other green plant material (I mean evergreens, of course, and ferns, but also sea weeds, mosses, lichens, algae, molds and other funky green stuff) are responsible for photosynthesis, and photosynthesis is responsible for enabling
Life on Earth.
Photosynthesis helps converts the sun's energy into sugar energy (or energy stored in chemical bonds) here on Earth instead of out in space. Whether you take the long view that photosynthesis plants [dinosaurs eating plants dead dinosaurs] fossil fuel reserves, or the more pragmatic view that photosynthesis enables wheat, corn, rice, soybeans and other crops to either be converted directly into human food or pass through animal farms on the way to becoming more food for humans, either way you can, I hope, see my point about photosynthesis being the driving chemistry for
Life on Earth.
But back to the leaves. There we were, millions of years ago, in fact about 360 million years ago, according to William C. Burger in Flowers: How They Changed the World. Evolution had come up with the dandy new idea of plants with stems and leaves, but they were all ferns, pines, or other gymnosperms. They all kept their leaves year-round, which wasn't so bad, because year-round was a balmy tropical climate.
But then it got colder, and consequently dryer (because cold air doesn't hold moisture), and as that happened the plants (or tree-like structures) needed to ditch their leaves. No problemo! Over the next few million years a new type of plant evolved: the angiosperms, or seed-bearing plants. There are many interesting things to learn about the angiosperms, but what I want to discuss today is the lovely, flat green leaf.
A broad flat surface like a leaf, suitable for absorbing the maximum amount of sunlight, left the plant open to heavy losses from transpiration (or evaporation) if the weather got cold and dry. The plant could lose raw materials if the wind or snow should happen to rip off this hypothetical leaf. What did our ever-adaptive plant do in response? It cleverly developed what Burger calls the "disposable leaf." Like a diposable brown paper lunch bag,
the disposable leaf was not costly in terms of raw materials for its pant. (Heck, let's call the plant a tree.) It could easily be reconstructed once sunshine was again plentiful (in other words, next spring).  The disposable leaf could be abandoned, discarded, deserted, ignored by its dead-beat tree. Except you and I know, of course, that the trees which managed to trap these dead, disposable leaves among their roots ended up benefitting from the leaf mulch that formed naturally on the deciduous forest floor.

So when you see those beautiful leaves falling to the ground and asking to be raked, remember, even as they are being abandoned by their trees, they are performing one last function for them as they die, that of a formerly living mulch for the tree's roots. Don't be too quick to rake and dispose of the leaves; remember, the tree wasn't taking them to the dump, it was just relocating the leaves from the end of the branches (where they were no longer useful and would in fact be a liability) to just above the roots, for the coming cold and possibly dry season. Give these poor, rejected leaves a hand with their dying wishes; help them protect and fertilize tree roots. You will feel better about yourself; I promise.

PICTURES: Thanks to Sally G. Miller, Morguefiles, and David Goehring.