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Ricinus communis, the castor-oil plant used in the assassination of Georgi Markov

Emma Townshend: Kew's festival of 'poison' plants is as educational as it is part of a grand tradition

Drugs shame? Far from it, says Emma Townshend.

The fiery autumn leaves of 'Brant'

Anna Pavord: It is possible to grow grape vines in this country

You just need to decide if you want them for decoration or drinking. Oh, and be prepared for a bit of pruning...

Don't have a garden? Get your green fingers working on the balcony, roof or allotment

In just seven years, around 1.5 million of us have lost access to green spaces we can call our own (blame the property market). But fear not, says Emma Townshend – there are more opportunities than ever if you want to get your hands dirty…

Emma Townshend: 'I love a bonfire but I have to remember that the neighbours might not'

I always want to burn stuff at this time of year. I want to pile it high, set fire to it, and watch it go. I want to fall asleep with my hair smelling of bonfires, put on my jumper again weeks later and still be able to smell smoke. I want to eschew the tip and the council recycling bags and just lay waste to the lot of it. Burn, burn, burn!

Purple reign: A colchicum in full bloom

Anna Pavord: If you want colchicums to spring up in your garden at the tail-end of summer, you'll have to go to some trouble

Colchicums are dormant for such a short time, so there is only a short window when you can get hold of them to plant

Anna Pavord: "Time to get planting for spring"

Spring may be a distant dream, but now is the time to start planning for it, advises our horticultural expert, who gives her top tips on which bulbs to plant this year

George Plumptre's new book delivers a paean to the English love for country-house gardens

End of the summer: art galleries are packing up their temporary exhibitions ready to send the works home, so I dashed to Tate Britain to catch the last week of British Folk Art. Wandering around, admiring gigantic men made of straw and carpets woven by sailors to include images of fine ships on the ocean wave, I realised how often gardening crops up as a Special Talent of These Isles.

Paradise in Camberwell: A gardener has created an extraordinary home for tree ferns in London

Patrick de Nangle has turned his garden into a jungle of tree ferns, cycads and bird-of-paradise plants

Weekend Work: Time to prune wall-trained trees

WHAT TO DO

Debbie Roberts' courtyard garden in Guernsey makes the most of relaxed, lush planting

Emma Townshend: 'Calling in the professionals to create an outdoor space might require a Lottery win - but it ain't half worth it'

'Twenty grand might just about do the labour, plants and hard landscaping in a small back garden'

Anna Pavord: 'It's a busy month ahead, with bulbs to force into bloom, lawns to repair, Virginia creeper to tame...'

It will all be worth it in the end, says our gardening expert

Anna Pavord: I've had more joy from the garden this year than I can ever before remember

The California poppies have beautifully self-seeded, the lily beetles have magically vanished... our horticultural expert cannot believe her luck in the garden this year

Emma Townshend: January has nothing on 1 September - here are my autumnal resolutions

Oh god, 1 September is coming. In France, they give it  an elegant name, la rentrée, signifying the moment when  we all come home from summer holiday and can start talking about what we’d like to eat for Christmas dinner.

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