After a seemingly endless summery September of misty mornings and warm sunshine, October seems to be more seasonal with our first rain for weeks and blustery winds bringing down scatterings of leaves. My new habit which I think I've picked up from my Mother is to pick up any interesting shapes or colours and put them in a bowl or arrange them on a plate on the table for more intimate inspection. This has really got me thinking about just how incredible leaves are. The sheer variety of shape, structure and colour is mind boggling and the chemistry within them will dictate whether they turn red, yellow or even pink and purple and occasionally will produce a perfume as in the Katsura tree ( Cercidiphyllum ) , which magically fills the air with the smell of burnt brown sugar or candy floss, as the leaves fall. Of course there is a wealth of foliage which generously gives us the taste of teas and tisanes to the scented oils produced by plants such as pelargonium and bay, and our familiar culinary "herby" leaves. I love the way a leaf can be the ID card of a plant- a snapshot of the plants personality, captured by unique shape, colour, texture and scent, presented in foliar form. And we must remember how the "breathing" process that leaves perform as they photosynthesize keeps us alive, a sobering thought as I rearrange my leaf bowl!