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Nasty things in the garden: Serpents offering fruit; Elders spying on naked women; Judas in Gethsemane; bindweed, deadly nightshade and giant hogweed, but also, alas, most effective weedkillers; snails and all methods of massacre apart from throwing them next door; whatever it was 'in the woodshed' in Cold Comfort Farm; fairies; neighbours' cats; Romeo/Cyrano de Bergerac and other lovelorn males; Maud's demented suitor; worm farms; lethal frisbees; mortars at No 10; garden gnomes; rabbits, or, if you are one, Mr McGregor; topical tips on Classic FM when you expect Brahms; camera-toting gatecrashers in bikinis at One's garden party.

TODAY is the feast day of Saint Ansovinus, who lived near Torcello in the Venice lagoon during the ninth century. Credited with many miracles, he is said to have used his cloak as a boat to get to church and to shield his eyes from the sun by making a linen cloth float in the air. Once, he stopped at an inn where the innkeeper served wine mixed with water and rudely told Ansovinus and his friends to take it or leave it. When the innkeeper refused to supply them with cups, Ansovinus poured the wine into his hood which retained the wine, while the water with which it had been mixed ran away.

13 March, 1619: The actor Richard Burbage (above), first ever Richard III, Romeo, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Henry V, and Lear, died. He was a major shareholder in the Globe theatre (now being rebuilt in Southwark) and a friend of Shakespeare, who left him a token gift in his will.

1781: Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus.

1894: First public striptease performed at a Paris music hall, consisting of a woman getting ready for bed.

1906: Death of Susan Anthony, US suffragist.

1930: Planet Pluto first observed.

1938: Germany declared Austria part of Germany.

1961: Black and white fivers ceased to be legal tender.

BIRTHDAYS: Sir Michael Checkland, former BBC director-general, 58; Tessie O'Shea, entertainer, 76; Neil Sedaka, singer, 55.

DEATHS: John Harrison, BBC correspondent, 48; Melina Mercouri, politician and actress, age mysterious.

(Photograph omitted)

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