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Materials • Main bag: 2 pieces calico, each 20¼in x 18in • Pocket: 1 piece calico, 7¾in x 9in • Lining: 2 pieces feedsack fabric, each 19¼in x 17in (we used Blue Hill Fabrics 7467-3, from www.laughinghens.com) • Handles: 2 pieces calico and 2 pieces feedsack fabric, each 20in x 3in • Fabric paints in yellow, dark green and orange • A selection of leaves with good veins on the back

Equipment • Sewing machine • Thread • Dressmaker’s pins • Small roller • Small paint brushes • Wax paper • Kitchen towel The underside of a variety of leaves can be coated with fabric paint and then the intricate vein pattern can be transferred to a piece of fabric

Fallen leaves from the garden can be used to make attractive decorations • Design: Nicki Trench • Photography: Richard Faulks

Leaf-print tote bag

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utumn leaves give an opportunity to create hand-printed fabric to use for bags, tablecloths or curtains, among other things. Leaves with prominent veins will print best and both green and brown leaves can be painted and pressed. If a plain bag isn’t to hand, a simple one can be made following the steps below. How to make the main bag Begin by placing two pieces of calico together, pin and sew along the sides and bottom using a ⅝in seam. Press open the seams. Fold over the top edge by 1in. Pin and press but do not sew. Now put your hand into a corner and spread your fingers to open that corner into a point, with the seam running down the centre of your hand. Use your other hand to match up side and bottom seams. When one seam is on top of the other, place a pin across the corner to hold it. Put the fabric down flat and measure 3in down the seam line from the corner. Add a pin marker. Using a ruler, mark the sewing line across the corner, with tailor’s chalk or pencil. It should be approx 6in across. Pin and sew along the marker line. Take out pins. Repeat on the other corner. Then trim the corners ›

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Above: the unmistakeable shape of a Horse Chestnut leaf. Right: the trees have often been planted as an avenue in parks and country houses

The All-Conkering Horse Chestnut Adrian Thomas explores the origins of the tree that has provided countless school children with a competitive autumn game

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he Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum is a familiar deciduous tree of city parks, churchyards and country parkland. When mature, it is an impressive tree, forming a great dome with branches almost down to ground level. One tree in Petworth Park in West Sussex was said to be 38m (125ft) tall. Another, near Hurstbourne Priors in Hampshire, had a girth of over seven metres in 2005. From spring through to autumn, the Horse Chestnut is easily identified by its leaf shape. There are five to seven leaflets

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to one leaf, spread like a palm. Each leaflet is pear-shaped, bulging towards its tip, and ending in a narrow point. The spread of the entire leaf can be up to 60cm, the largest of any native European tree. The flowers are distinctive, too. They emerge in mid spring as one of our showiest tree blossoms. They stand in candle-like spires, each a panicle of 20 to 50 bisexual flowers. Each flower is white, with a yellowish central spot that turns pink after pollination. Early bumblebees are a prime vector for the pollen. Only a few flowers go on to become

the familiar spiny fruit. These are green and five centimetres or so across. When ripe, the fruit splits to reveal the large glossy seed inside, the conker, which is cushioned by a spongy white lining. Each conker has a white ‘scar’, which is often heart-shaped. Sometimes more than one conker forms in a fruit, each twin or triplet developing flat sides where it sits alongside its siblings. In winter, the Horse Chestnut can be told by its dark, sticky leaf buds, the one at the tip of each twig being especially large. The bark is smooth and grey in young ›


The glossy seeds of the Horse Chestnut burst out of their protective fleshy covering in the autumn

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The Coneflower The wild Echinacea, or Coneflower, has long been known for its statuesque beauty and medicinal properties

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“Several species of the prairie or purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia are the primary strengthening herbs for the immune system.” E Barrie Karasch and Karen Barr, American Indian Healing Arts

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chinacea is a tall plant from the central plains of North America and it has become popular in Britain over the past two decades. The genus is typically drought resistant, wind tolerant and can become established in just one season. It covers the ground with a mass of leaves so thick you can’t see the soil. It self-seeds, so the best varieties need very little in the way of propagation once they’re established. Parts of the plant have been used for centuries as a cure-all, to boost human immune systems. In fact, its own roots rarely succumb to any pests or diseases.

Echinacea is a crucial part of the medicinal rites of many Native American tribes, with many centuries of use to treat pain and to support the immune system

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ is a perfect companion to the spires of Stachys officianalis ‘Hummelo.’ Both flower from July to September and both have flower heads lasting into winter

American origins It is just one genus of the Asteraceae family, along with more than 22,750 plant species that include Asters, daisies and sunflowers, and it’s typical of Asteraceae that the large, dramatic flower heads you see are actually inflorescences containing multiple flowers. Most echinaceas have a strong taproot system that helps with the drought resistance, though Echinacea purpurea has a caudex, or thickened underground stem, with fibrous roots. These dramatic, structural plants still grow wild in the US. E. purpurea is one of nine species there, and one of three used medicinally; Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida being the others. The American Botanic Council claims that echinacea has been used for medicine by Native American tribes for thousands of years. Archaeological digs have certainly found echinacea in Lakota Sioux village sites from the 1600s. Missouri Snake Root Echinacea was employed as a painkiller and to treat a wide variety of infections and particular species used depended largely on the geographical range of the tribe. The Cheyenne, Dakota, Fox and Winnebago tribes used E. angustifolia because it grew mainly to the west of the Mississippi. E. purpurea grew mostly to the east of the Mississippi and people called it Missouri Snake Root. It was used in rituals as well. Comanches masticated the roots and applied the pulp to their hands as a local anaesthetic before ceremonies at which they handled glowing coals. E Barrie Karasch and Karen Barr, authors of American Indian Healing Arts, describes a tincture which can be made using 300g of fresh, finely chopped echinacea roots and a litre of vodka. You store the mixture for a fortnight, then filter it through cheesecloth and use half a teaspoon of the resulting liquid to make a tea. They advise using this no more than three times a day, or for seven days in a row. A milder tincture comes from selecting the leaves and flowers instead of the roots. ›

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Star attraction The bright Fuchsia is one of the few flowering shrubs that blooms from summer right through to autumn • Photography: Richard Faulks • Styling: Claire Williams

The Fuchsia was named by the French plant-hunter Charles Pumier in 1703, after German botanist Leonhard Fuchs. It is a native of Central and South America

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Making Bread There’s nothing like the smell of fresh home-baked bread and rolls, with a taste worth waking up for every day

Irish Soda Bread goes well with strong cheese and is a good alternative for anyone who is sensitive to yeast. It is also quick and easy to make

Irish Soda Bread Makes one loaf 222g wholemeal flour

60g butter

225g strong white flour 1 tsp salt

300ml buttermilk + 1 to 3 tbsp buttermilk

1 tbsp sugar

Flour for kneading

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Baking parchment

Sieve the wholemeal flour. Set aside half the bran that collects in the sieve, but add the other half back. Mix the sieved wholemeal, white flour, salt, sugar, and bicarbonate of soda together. Add the butter and rub into the mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Add the 300ml of buttermilk and knead to a smooth dough. Add more if it is too dry. Shape the dough into a round loaf and put it on to a baking tray lined with parchment. Using a floured knife, make a cross 1-2cm deep in the centre of the loaf. Press the slits with the floured handle of a mixing spoon. Sprinkle with water and the bran saved from sieving. Bake on the second lowest shelf in a pre-heated oven (200â—ŚC/gas 6) for 30-40min.

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THE BOUNTIFUL MICHAELMAS DAISY Michaelmas Daisies are treats of the autumn, adding their joyful floral clouds to our gardens in shades of white, lavender and pink

The Michaelmas Daisy, or Aster, is the quintessential English cottage-garden flower, although it originates from North America

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LandScape August/September Issue