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Landscape (UK) - - Land Scape - Rachel Hawkins Editor

OC­TO­BER BRINGS GLOW­ING colour to the hedgerow. Travers­ing the coun­try­side, their tan­gle of bram­bles and bur­nished rose hips draw a bound­ary be­tween fields and vil­lages. One such hedge skirts the bot­tom of my garden, its mass of arch­ing stems and scram­bling ivy cre­at­ing a dense bar­rier of thorns, creep­ing roots and leath­ery heart shaped leaves. Stand­ing sen­tinel in the hedge are two field maples. As au­tumn sets in, their leaves flut­ter down­wards, coat­ing the lawn in a rich auburn blan­ket. See­ing them rest­ing on the ground, I can­not re­sist tak­ing up my de­pend­able rake. A cou­ple of the tines are bro­ken, and the paint is flak­ing from the wooden han­dle, but to use any­thing else would be like break­ing a spell. Drag­ging it through the leaves strikes a res­o­nant note against the soft earth be­low. Be­fore long, loose mounds of leaves dot the lawn like is­lands float­ing in a green sea. It is warm­ing work. I dis­card my jumper, hook­ing it on a low-hang­ing branch. Feel­ing in­vig­o­rated, I sweep some of the leaves against the base of the hedge. There is a reg­u­lar garden vis­i­tor who could make use of them for its win­ter re­pose. Once na­ture has its share, I will store the re­main­der un­til spring, when, hav­ing de­cayed to a musty smelling crum­ble, I will re­turn them to the ground once more. The worms will work them down into the soil, com­plet­ing the cy­cle. Happy with my af­ter­noon’s labour, I re­trieve my jumper. I can feel the damp air rest­ing in its fi­bres. A thin veil of mist is de­scend­ing. Step­ping to­wards the house, I am sure I can hear a rustling un­der the hedge. Maybe it is my prickly friend…

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