The Curious Gardener, By Anna Pavord

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The Independent Culture

Fans of Anna Pavord's column in this paper's magazine relish her rare combination of enthusiasm, knowledge and good humour. This delightful posy of her journalism forms A Year in the Garden.

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In January, we learn that a stock called Starlight Sensation is "desperately wholesome... like the young Shirley Temple. Half of me goes 'Aaaah!', the other half goes Arrrgh!'".

In April, she overhears a mystifying view on fritillaries in a stratospherically pricey New York florist: "Edgy. Very edgy." In September, she drifts off during an interview on mazes: "It's all good, spooky stuff, but I glazed over when he got into sacred geometry mode."

Splendid horticultural entertainment – but practical too. Now's the time to get "low-growing crocus and iris" into your window box.