leif it to the expert – green up your knowledge

leif it to the expert – green up your knowledge

Surely his fate was sealed when his parents bestowed upon him the homonym. We can hear them now, the playground taunts he might have endured: Hey, why don’t you make like a tree…and Leif! “How original. I’ve never heard that one before.” Well, however it was that Leif Johnson happened upon his affinity for leaves, we’re glad for it.

It’s deep summer here in SW Florida. Native Virginia creeper is overtaking the cabbage palms. Our native landscaping projects are maturing. Everything is green, green, green. But how does it all work? How do leaves – from the fronds of our yards’ birds of paradise to the grasses of our marshes to the cooked greens on your dinner plate – soak up our region’s generous sunlight to produce that glorious hue?

Photosynthesis, you say? Chlorophyll, sure. Your high school biology teacher might be content that you remembered even that much. Did you even pay attention? Leif Johnson is one of those rare scientists who not only know their stuff, but can rhapsodize about their subject, inject humor and take us along for a deep dive into their world and make us care deeply about it. He’s even generated a hashtag, #LeafLove.

Enjoy this thoroughly engaging article from Johnson, a Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologist, and tell us if it doesn’t make you feel a heck of a lot more connected to the work green leaves do to breathe, feed and grow – and in return, shelter, feed, and equip us in many ways we rarely take time to consider.

In offering our landscape architecture expertise, we are privileged to enjoy a close relationship to the plant kingdom. Even we, though, can sometimes use a little reminder to slow down, make like a tree…and breathe.

Leif Johnson was recently interviewed on our local NPR affiliate, WGCU. Tune in and catch some dream green. We did!

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