Guest Post: Garden Fairies Explain Fall Leaf Color

Garden fairies here. We are garden fairies and we are doing this special guest post to explain fall foliage color.

Many gardeners, as we call people who come out into our gardens and plant, prune, primp, etc. while taking full credit for what we garden fairies do but we are garden fairies so we don't mind, we actually do not like to be in the spotlight and so we have our ways to put these gardeners in their places and oh my, this sentence has really run off course like a sweet potato vine that has grown out of its pot and into the one next to it.

Whew, what just happened there? We are garden fairies, we get a pass on the above.

Anyway, as we were writing, many gardeners (see above) think that it is the garden fairies who turn the leaves all kinds of colors in the fall.

We are garden fairies, we would love to take credit for this miracle but we are too honest to do that.

It is not the garden fairies who make the leaves turn red, orange, yellow, bronze, brown, burgundy, auburn, magenta, maroon, gold, and even purple.

It is the tree sprites.

Tree sprites are very tiny little creatures who start out each spring all full of vim and vigor. They make something called chlorophyll, which is a green color, so that all the leaves are green in the spring. They do this in their chlorophyll factories which we garden fairies have seen. These factories are amazing places and those tree sprites have perfected their chlorophyll making abilities so that they can make almost any shade of green.

They make more shades of green than Carol has hanging in her closet which as we garden fairies know and have seen is full of green clothes.

Anyway, when fall comes and it starts to get cold and the mornings are darker and evenings come earlier, the tree sprites close up shop so to speak, shut down their chlorophyll making machines, pack their bags, and start heading south. They travel in big groups, coming down from the north and pick up new tree sprites along the way until before you know it, there are legions of tree sprites heading south for the winter. 

Obviously, once the tree sprites start to head south for the winter, no more chlorophyll is made so then the leaves show their true colors and oh-my we are garden fairies we think those leaves are the prettiest things we've ever seen and we have seen a lot.
Now some garden fairies, but not very many garden fairies, would like to take credit for fall foliage. They argue that people think it is we garden fairies who turn the foliage all kinds of colors, so why not take the credit for it?

But we are garden fairies so we categorically, euphorically, metaphorically, and hortically will not take credit where credit it is not due to us.

We would never do that to our brethren and sistren, the tree sprites. Because if we did, the tree sprites might get upset and stubbornly decide not to make chlorophyll ever again and tell us garden fairies to make the chlorophyll. But we are garden fairies, we have no idea in the world how to make chlorophyll, so we would have fall foliage colors in the spring, and that would just not be right.

Now, we garden fairies are absolutely responsible for cutting the leaves off the trees once they have lost all their green color. We take this job quite seriously and do the trees in a specific order.

Our favorite thing to do is wait until the gardener has cleared off all the leaves we previously cut off and then cut off more of them.  This causes the gardener all kinds of extra work with raking and all.  Then we sit up in the trees and watch until the ground is all cleared of leaves again and repeat until all the leaves have been cut off the trees.

One of the last leaves we cut off the trees are the oaks, like this scarlet oak pictured above. We might just wait until Christmas to cut off these leaves.

So in conclusion, we are garden fairies, as we have mentioned, and we are pleased to have set the record straight on fall foliage. Now, please spend some time enjoying the pretty fall foliage colors and thank the tree sprites for the chlorophyll... and for stopping production each fall to let the trees show their true colors.

Submitted by Thorn Goblinfly,
Chief Scribe for the Garden Fairies at May Dreams Gardens where the tree sprites have just left and the trees are really colorful right now.


  1. Ah so it's the garden fairies I have to blame is it? They're very clever at ensuring there are huge piles of leaves at the most inconvenient times!

  2. I love it!!! The perfect guest for this time of year:)

  3. Thank you, Thorn, for this enlightening post about the fall foliage and the Tree Sprites. We do so appreciate your cutting the leaves a few at a time or there would be too many to deal with all at once.

    Fernleaf Gravelgardener

  4. Thorn, I think the garden fairies down here draw out the cutting off of the leaves WAY longer than those of y'all in Carol's garden! Can't you teach my garden fairies some manners?

  5. Oh no...we just had fall leaf week with the child care kids and I told them totally wrong information. No wonder we never have good fall color, I've been teaching the wrong thing for years and the sprites have been angered. Maybe next year I'll read this explanation to the kids and see what happens.

  6. This explains so well what is now happening in my garden! Could you talk with the C and L fairies and sprites and have l them release the leaves on Hamamelis 'Diane' so we can see the flowers? gail

  7. Thank you, Thorin, for this clear explanation; I'm a bit science-challenged, so now I finally understand this whole yearly process. I think we have a clan of wind sprites also living at my house, because I've found if I wait long enough, all the leaves seem to blow into our neighbors' yards:)

  8. what a delightful story! I loved it, here in the tropics we just have the sprites, and it is always green.

  9. What a wonderfully beautiful way to describe the yearly leaf cycle. So imaginative! :)


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