Winter leaf decay – a thing of beauty

Fading and decaying leaves

Once the leaves of deciduous trees have burst forth with autumn colour, it is easy to lose sight of them. You  may assume they are going to fall and decompose without much dignity or grace, crumpling into crisps if dry or fading into a soggy mess if wet. Look closer, though, and you can find some magical effects.

Pavements can be a great place to look as fallen leaves become imprinted in the asphalt. They may still be whole, leaving a filigree of delicate brown that has its own beauty. In the rain and frost, water droplets follow the relief of leaf dents and patterns and sparkle in the light.

There are some exotic garden leaves that fade gradually. They go through different phases of variegated colour and design. Also consider the poplar. Its leaves have a robust skeleton that may stay intact just as the flesh rots away. I was able to collect some of these and bleach them so as to bring out their full structure.

You may enjoy looking out for such wonders with a mobile phone or camera at the ready to capture a time in the leaf’s cycle that is brief but no less significant for that.  It is also deeply satisfying to collect and preserve some of the leaves for decoration and a range of arts and crafts activities. 




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