It’s that time of year when I wonder how on earth there can be so many leaves in our garden. And lots more to come.

At the moment the grass is yellow with the covering of large, fingery leaves from the mountain ash. The walnut tree leaves are larger, flatter and a darker yellow, turning to brown, and I have to remove them from my flower beds quickly, as walnut tree leaves contain special toxins, killing any other plants daring to grow near their parent tree.

It’s all our fault of course, for planting and maintaining deciduous trees:

The fallen leaves are a price worth paying for all the colours in the garden today,

and of course quite a few of them will have a most important job over the next months, as cosy nests for our hedgehogs.

Many years ago my lovely husband was away on a business trip and I went out into the garden with a glass of wine; it was an early summer evening, about 8pm, and crossing the grass under the apple tree I spotted a hedgehog calmly walking by. I was so excited.

Since then, hedgehogs have become regular and very noisy residents in our garden. Last year we had a night camera trained on the terrace and were vastly amused to see two hedgehogs, mother and baby, who spent the whole night it seemed climbing in and out of the feeding bowl, walking around the feeding bowl clockwise then anti-clockwise.

We often found hibernating hedgehogs in piles of leaves, or one time in the middle of a huge sedum plant, so it was clear that my talented husband could make our guests more comfortable winter quarters. So we watched lots of videos and downloaded plans.

We now have three such houses in various places in the garden, surrounded by branches and sticks and extra leaves (as if there weren’t enough already).

When I was a little girl, I didn’t actually own many books. It wasn’t necessary as we went to the library every Thursday, and I could choose as many as I liked. I did own a series of books about the animals of Blackberry Farm, and this morning I remembered them. Blackberry Farm was theoretically run by humans, but actually it was the animals (of course) who saved the day. These animals were all dressed in aprons or capes and called ‘Ernest Owl’ or ‘Walter Duck’ or ‘Mrs Nibble’ and led kind and helpful lives of the sort which seem very appealing in these troubled times.

This is a Must Watch:

Autumn is not only time for leaves, but also time to be cosy – a cup of tea and a hedgehog cookie would just hit the spot.

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