CUTTINGS

It's not too late to send gardening presents
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Christmas deadlines? Don't worry, just give us a call, even the week before Christmas. If we've got it in stock, we will ship it ..." promises Graham Hopper of Garden Images, who produces a stylish small brochure of gifts for gardeners. Try his galvanised French flower vases, like tall thin buckets, leak resistant, rust resistant and available in three sizes (either 8in, 12in or 15in tall; prices pounds 7.95 to pounds 11.95), or his black steel hurricane lamp (91/2in tall, 51/2in deep and costs, pounds 19.95). The Garden Images order line (01564 794035) is open from 9am to 9pm seven days a week.

More last-minute Christmas presents ... Allwoods, who since 1910 have specialised in growing carnations and pinks, can send one dozen mixed carnations with foliage for pounds 9.95, 15 mixed carnations with foliage for pounds 11.95. Flowers are despatched by first-class mail from Monday to Thursday and should arrive overnight. Telephone order line 01273 844229.

I was interested to read your article about windowboxes," wrote Maria Carmody of the PR company Parker Hobart, "and thought you might like to hear about my new client Marston & Langinger." Since M&L specialise in designing, building and furnishing the most sumptuous conservatories, the connection wasn't quite as clear to me as it evidently was to Ms Carmody. Nevertheless, I have had a happy time drooling over the pictures in the lavish brochure she enclosed. It's the details that are so riveting: the cast-iron roof braces, the slatted benches, the cast-iron heating grilles set into the terracotta paved floors, the rigid metal gutters, the finials and vent openers. The furniture they sell is no less classy - English willow made into sofas, chairs, ottomans and tables. The London showroom is at 192 Ebury Street, London SW1W 8UP (0171-823 6829); the workshops at George Edwards Road, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 8NL.

More than 200 rhododendrons, including the rare species R oreodoxa, R beesianum and R phaeochrysum have been returned to China in a new conservation initiative pioneered by the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. This is the first time that the RBGE has returned live plants to their country of origin. The rhododendrons have gone to the Hua Xi Subalpine Botanical Garden in Sichuan province to provide the nucleus of a conservation collection of plants that are under threat in their wild habitats. The rhododendrons will be propagated in Sichuan and some of them can then be used to reinforce wild populations.

The project has been funded in part by the government's Darwin Initiative. The link is particularly appropriate as many of these plants were first brought to the RBGE by plant hunters at the turn of the century. The botanic garden is an important research centre for anyone interested in the flora of China. Taxonomists there are working on a monumental 25-volume flora of the country which should be finished by 2010.

The National Trust is to acquire the 675-acre, Grade I listed Capability Brown landscape park at Croome, near Worcester, from the Sun Alliance and London Assurance Company, which has owned a large part of the estate for the last 15 years. Brown's design for the park with its lakes and river remains almost as he planned it. The park buildings include a splendid temple greenhouse designed by Robert Adam in 1760 and features by James Wyatt.

The National Trust estimates that the total cost of the restoration and preservation of Croome Park will be in the region of pounds 8m. It has already received more than half that sum from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. The restoration is likely to take 10 years.

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