Cuttings: The trouble with Agnes

Next Saturday the Kew guide Eric Taylor will lead a Cooks Tour round the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, highlighting the unusual food plants that flourish in Kew's hothouses. Bananas, coffee beans, tea plants and Caribbean star fruit all grow in the Palm House. Kew could also supply the highly nutritious durian fruit, native to Malaysia and Indonesia - if anybody ever wanted it. Usually they don't, because it smells so terrible. Saturday's tour leaves from the Victoria Gate visitor centre at 11.30am and will be repeated on Wednesday 25 February. For details of other themed tours, contact Kew on 0181 332 5633.

A little while ago I wrote about the `Agnes' rose in our garden, which had had 15 years to get its act together and had failed miserably. I never saw a single one of its big, double, amber-yellow flowers, and finally dispatched the bush to the bonfire. Lavena Hawes has the same problem. "My courtyard garden in central Cambridge is packed with plants," she writes. "I have about 15 different roses, including the rugosa rose `Agnes'. She was planted in 1986 in memory of my mother, next to `Mme Isaac Pereire' and `Alfred de Dalmas'. They flowered with gay abandon again this summer but `Agnes' has only ever had one bloom in the whole of her life.

This year she had three buds, but they just turned brown and dropped off. So do I follow your example and give her a quiet burial? I haven't any room to plant her elsewhere." Space in a small garden is too precious to waste on no-hopers. My answer is an unequivocal "Yes".

Weekend breaks for gardeners are on offer at the The Swan Hotel, Southwold, Suffolk, well within reach of some of the area's finest gardens. During the weekend you can visit Mark Rumary's fine garden at Yoxford, a garden designed by Lanning Roper at Orford, and Lord and Lady Tollemache's acres at Helmingham Hall. There will also be a champagne welcome at Michael Loftus's excellent nursery, Woottens of Wenhaston. For full details of this and other gardening breaks in July and September, contact Dudley Clarke at The Swan (01502 722186).

Visiting gardens in France has never been easier, thanks to the Channel Tunnel. Within hours you could be wandering beside the newly planted ponds of the Manoir de Pontgirard, admiring the strictly regulated design of Mme Wirth's garden at Chateau de Brecy, swooning over the swaths of colour planted by Mme de Carpentier in the walled gardens at Chateau de Canon and checking out the fruit at the Jardins des Plantes in Rouen. Details of these and other Normandy gardens are available from the Normandy Tourist Board, The Old Bakery, Bath Hill, Keynsham, Bristol BS18 1HG (01179 860386).

Agriframes made its name with metal arches, trellises, pergolas, bowers and fruit cages for gardeners, but its mail-order catalogue wanders much deeper into gardening territory. It offers tool lockers and tip bags, boots and bamboo screens. Agriframes also sells spun polypropylene fleece, warm, permeable and translucent. Use it to protect the heads of bay trees or tree ferns during winter. Or set it over young seedlings to protect them from attack. A roll of fleece 40ft x 5ft costs pounds 10.25. For a copy of the mail-order catalogue, contact Agriframes at Charlwoods Rd, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 2HG (01342 310000).

Marceline Siddons set up The Conservatory shortly after she had finished her botany degree at Cambridge. She wanted to supply not just conservatory plants, but also the right kind of advice on how best to grow them. So if a plant is a martyr to red spider, she doesn't hide the fact. But if she thinks it is worth growing anyway, she'll tell you that as well. The most recent catalogue produced by Ms Siddons and her husband, Chris, lists nine different kinds of abutilon and five acacias. She also has maurandya, which I grew on the south front of the house this summer. Too much leaf to flower was my verdict; however, that might change if the plant were grown in a conservatory, and kept dryer and hungrier. For enthusiasts, there are 13 different kinds of citrus and 15 bougainvillaeas.

The Conservatory at Gomshall Gallery, Gomshall, Surrey GU5 9LB (01483 203019) is open Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm and Sunday afternoons from April to the end of September. Plants can also be sent by mail order.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power