Country & garden: Cuttings

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The Independent Culture
THE BRITISH Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) provides opportunities for people nationwide to get involved in conservation work and learn skills from professional instructors. The minimum age for most projects is 16. There is a busy programme for volunteers in the London area, with chainsaw practice lined up for the weekend of 28-29 November (cost pounds 15). "Brush up your chainsaw skills with other chainsaw enthusiasts" suggests the BTCV. Their programme is printed on non-chlorine-bleached recycled paper using soya-based inks. How I wish they would turn their PC minds to ways of quietening the beastly (but necessary) chainsaw and its cousin, the strimmer. For more information about BTCV work in the London area, contact the training officer, Edward Kellow, at 80 York Way, London N1 9AG (0171-837 9137).

AUTUMN IS the best time to sow a wild-flower meadow, says the aptly named Charles Flower, who specialises in wild flowers on his Wiltshire farm. He sells seed of many native flowers, such as lady's bedstraw and purple loosestrife, but also makes up different mixes suitable for particular conditions. His clay-soil mix contains selfheal and yellow rattle; the one for chalk soils includes black knapweed and wild carrot. Wet soils are less easy to manage than chalk, but Mr Flower has a mix for that, too, with betony, tufted vetch and meadowsweet among the ingredients. Mixed batches of seed cost pounds 40 a kilo (pounds 45 for the wet-soil mix). Sow at a rate of three grams a square metre. Phone 01672 870782 for an informative plant list and order form.

AT SIR John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, is a major exhibition of drawings by the landscape designer, painter and architect William Kent, who died in the middle of the 18th century. He worked as an interior decorator at Kensington Palace, Chiswick House and Houghton Hall before launching into his true metier of landscape design. "There is a new taste in gardening just arisen," wrote Sir Thomas Robinson to his father-in-law, the Earl of Carlisle, in 1734, and explained the marvel of Kent's working "without either level or line". Claremont, in Surrey, and Stowe, Buckinghamshire, are partly his work. The exhibition, which marks the 250th anniversary of Kent's death, continues until 19 December. The museum is open Tues-Sat (10am-5pm). Admission pounds 2.