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I remember as a child feeling curiously excited when I caught the first smell of autumn in the air. It may be something to do with having an autumn birthday, or fireworks night, or Halloween, or simply wrapping up warm and eating comforting food.

Children are discovering the world around them for the first time and each autumn is a fresh surprise of chilly days, earthy smells, berries mushrooms and nuts, some you can eat and some you most definitely cannot. And the trees! It’s wonderful to see their leaves turn colour.

A tree you never noticed before suddenly turns the most magical, fairy tale, brilliant yellow and its leaves fall like drips of gold into the grass below.

A bit over overgrown brick wall surprisingly and briefly becomes a blazing crimson tapestry.

These miracles last for the shortest of times, they are come and gone in an instant and are all the more precious for the fact that their time is so brief.

Every year I gather a few leaves, usually wet with soft rain when I pick them up so that they gleam with intense colour. Then, in a few hours, they crisp and fade and become ordinary and get thrown away because they are making a mess.

I have looked for ways to preserve them for a little bit longer.

I have pressed them between the pages of heavy books and left them for a week or so. I have used a flower press. Both of these methods preserve something of the glorious moments of autumn, even if the leaves fragile delicate when you take them from the press or book.

This year I have picked up some leaves on my little trips out into the world. It is such a strange year, that I feel that I need to savour every wonderful moment of it.

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So here is a method of preserving leaves that I am trying out for the first time.

I don’t know if it will work yet, but fingers crossed.

Enjoy every moment of this beautiful season.

1/2 cup of glycerine mixed well with 1 cup of water.

On each of your beautiful leaves, make a cut in the stem so that it can absorb the mixture more easily. Put them in a sealable plastic bag, nice and flat and add the glycerine water. Seal up the bag and lay it flat for about three days. The leaves are supposed to come out supple, with their colours well preserved.

You can buy glycerine from your chemist for under three pounds for 200ml


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Today members of the London Beekeepers Association joined us to plant nectar-rich forage for both the honeybees in the hives at Mudchute as well as wild pollinators. The wildflower species include a wide variety of native varieties that provide nectar throughout the year. All of the wildflower species have been carefully selected by the LBKA forage officer Mark and Mudchute trustee and botanist John Swindells. Thank you to all who helped with the planting! The weather may not have been the best for our volunteers, but the rain will help water the new plants in! As they settle, please take care when walking of the area surrounding our deadhedge on the lower paddock.

Interested in finding out more about planting for bees? You an find more info on flowers for bees on the LBKA website.

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In addition to our domestic livestock and pets corner animals, Mudchute is also home to a huge diversity of plants and wildlife. We’re just starting to explore the incredible wildlife of Mudchute Park & Farm and welcome you to take part! Here’s a peek at just some of the stunning plants and animals we’ve encountered around Mudchute! See more on the next page and at our new Wildlife at Mudchute flickr pool. Have you spotted something interesting or unusual at Mudchute? Snap a photo and send it our way. While we can’t guarantee we’ll know what it is, we’ll certainly try to help you with identification!

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