Gardening: Cuttings

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IN THE latest edition of Tree News, the seed specialist Dr Andrew Gordon analyses the available statistics on broad-leaved trees planted in Britain since the 1960s. He concludes that between 70 and 85 per cent of the broad-leaved trees planted in this country are of foreign origin and finds that the majority of British nurseries rely on trees grown from imported seed.

Does this matter? Yes, it does. In the same issue, Dr Richard Worrell of Edinburgh University compares the survival and growth in Britain of trees of native and foreign origin. He shows that many native British trees grown from continental seed are less well-adapted to British growing conditions than British natives grown from British collected seed. Growth is less robust and the survival rate is poorer. For most species, in most areas, Dr Worrell concludes that the best trees will be of British origin, and that biodiversity is best served by planting trees raised from seed gathered from a region close to the planting site. Free copies of Tree News are available from the Tree Council at 51 Catherine Place, London SW1E 6DY (0171-828 9928).

IS IT necessary for the gardener to be at odds with nature, asks garden designer John Brookes.

In his latest book, The New Garden (Dorling Kindersley pounds 16.99), he shows how gardens should be "of their place", each responding to local climate, soil, flora, fauna and cultural traditions. By "new", he does not mean a garden made on virgin territory. Rather, he is encouraging us to look at gardens in a new way: use local materials in their construction, instead of ubiquitous concrete pavers, and work with prevailing conditions instead of against them.

That kind of dictatorial dominance never makes for a comfortable garden. The book is based on a series of case histories, with plans and plantings taken from gardens all over the world. They include coastland gardens, wetland gardens, dryland gardens, Mediterranean gardens. Find the best match for your own situation and learn from a master of understated style.

CHILDREN (WITH an adult in tow) will be admitted free to Kew Gardens this weekend for a series of special Christmas events. Father Christmas is making an appearance, there are horse-drawn omnibus rides along the Broad Walk and choirs at the Victoria Gate Visitor Centre. Added to the delicious scent of mahonias and flowering viburnums will be the smell of mulled wine and hot chestnuts.

For further information about all events, phone 0181-332 5907.