Keeping a promise….

While holidaying in Vietnam in 2010, I spent a couple of days helping out at the Da Nang Social Support Centre. This centre caters for people that are unable to look after themselves because of bad health, they are too young, or too old, or just too poor.

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Hawaii: a paradise for plants

Islands are Nature’s kitchen and the Hawaiian Islands, sitting in splendid isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, are the perfect place to see where evolution has cooked up a smorgasbord. When the first humans arrived on the islands around 400 AD there were already thousands of plant and animal creations.

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Comfrey for bones

A fall in the family means I’ve had broken bones on my mind lately. This particular break (my mother’s broken shoulder) is going to need the best medical science has to offer to make it better but in days gone by, people often turned to the garden for a remedy.

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Instant city garden oasis

Garden designer Robert Boyle’s client had dreams of a very private city garden, only to discover the adjoining property, which they had just purchased to create their back-garden oasis, would be overlooked and dominated by a large development on a neighbour’s property.

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Sweet pea breeding

Developing a new plant variety can take a long time. The packets of sweet peas I am going to plant in my garden represent a lifetime’s work for one plant breeder. Dr Keith Hammett has been breeding better sweet peas for more than 60 years – initially in England and for the past 50 years in his adopted home New Zealand.

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Art in the landscape in Provence

I have quite a fondness for the south of France, even when the days are cold, crisp, and still. Perhaps in Provence the lavender in the heat can no longer tickle the nose, but the shimmering autumn colour can dazzle the eye as you drive through the rolling hills.

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The rise of the Instagram gardener

What has the world come to that we are reducing everything to a series of words pre-empted by a hash tag? #gardening #pot plants #indoors  #foliage . Whatever the less social media savvy might think, social media is very much part of the modern world. It’s here to stay and is influencing and shaping modern gardening in a positive way.

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Malahide Castle gardens

Malahide Castle and its gardens, north of Dublin city in County Dublin, are a very worthwhile visit for at least three reasons. The first is the historic Malahide Castle itself, owned continuously for about 800 years by the Talbot family. The lands and harbour of Malahide were granted to founder Richard Talbot by Henry II in return for his part played in the Anglo- Norman invasion of Ireland.

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