A nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings.' Broader definitions include providing shade or support to other plants.
Some of the advantages a nurse log offers to a seedling are: water, moss thickness, leaf litter, mycorrhizae, disease protection, nutrients, and sunlight. Recent research into soil pathogens suggests that in some forest communities, pathogens hostile to a particular tree species appear to gather in the vicinity of that species, and to a degree inhibit seedling growth. Nurse logs may therefore provide some measure of protection from these pathogens, thus promoting greater seedling survivor-ship.
A Nurse Log reminds me a lot of Fireweed, another image from the natural world that inspires me.