by Amy Bell, PLA, ASLA, ISA Certified Arborist FBT Architects Landscape Architect
This six-part blog series investigates the reasons why we have fallen out of love with soil (or at the very least taken it for granted) and how we can rekindle that relationship through an amended approach to the design and construction of our everyday places.
Soil and the City, Episode 5: Trees – the Love Child of Soil, Water and Air
Wait a minute. What business does a soil blog have going on about trees? Turns out, they might be the key to a lasting relationship with soil.
Trees serve as our worldly connection to the depths below. Through their leaves, branches, flowers and fruit, we surface dwellers can peek into the frenzy of biological romance under our feet. Trees represent the grand outcome of prolific procreation underground through the intermingling of air, sunlight, water and organic matter.
Pablo Neruda, master of love prose, felt this resonance and described it in his poem "Girl Gardening" (from Third Book of Odes 1957):
of you prospered
like a thunderclap
in a massing of leafage and power.
In a pure and graceful expression of true love, trees are masterfully grounded yet artfully airborne. They speak to the soil through chemical interactions, electrical pulses, and water, nutrient and gas exchange. Tree roots and fungus in the soil boogie down through mycorrhizal associations, benefitting plant and soil ecosystem alike. Despite their fixed address, trees are nimble and eloquent communicators. Have a seat. Trees will listen.