War Gardens – a review

This book and its theme are timely and poignant. We won’t stop waging wars. Some parts of the globe have long histories of it with competition for resources, land, water, trade and souls. Dwindling water supplies suggest more will come. We also won’t stop gardening – for food, shelter, beauty, solace – and this book is revealing on why. What gardening does for us – something that seems worth pondering and talking-up, as peace-fostering.

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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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