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GARDENS OF FRANCE a new guide written by Barbara Abbs (Quiller Press, pounds 9.99), is ideally arranged for travellers since the gardens in it are grouped region by region. If you are in Burgundy, for instance, you can see at a glance what is on offer. I liked the sound of the Abbaye de Fontenay near Montbard, with its four-tiered waterfall and cooling springs. "A garden of monastic serenity," says Mrs Abbs. Close by is Bussy Rabutin, once home of the Comte du Bussy, which has espaliered apple trees in a formal garden of clipped box. There are detailed instructions about finding all the gardens and all the information you need about opening times.

"My daughter had twin daughters a little time ago and has called them Jasmine and Saffron," writes Jane Carlton from Wakefield. "As a present to them I wanted to plant jasmine and saffron crocus in her garden. I know about the yellow winter jasmine and last week saw a white spring- flowering jasmine. However, I'm having difficulty tracking down the saffron crocus, which I understand is called Crocus sativus. Another problem is one of timing. I'm told that the saffron crocus flowers in the autumn. Is there any way that I can get a jasmine and the crocus to flower closely together?"

The first problem is more easily solved than the second. Crocus sativus, which has reddish purple flowers with the brilliant stigmas that produce saffron, is available from: Avon Bulbs, Burnt House Farm, mid-Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HE (01460 242177), or Potterton & Martin, The Cottage Nursery, Moortown Road, Nettleton, Caistor, Lincolnshire LN7 6HX (01472 851792).

The crocus usually flowers in October and I cannot think of a jasmine that is out at that time. The common white jasmine, J. officinale, starts flowering in June and sometimes drifts on to late September. Neither J. polyanthum nor J. primulinum would be hardy enough to grow outdoors in Wakefield, and anyway both have a spring flowering season. Mrs Carlton, I think, will have to settle for the winter flowering jasmine, J. nudiflorum, which is usually out by November. Jasmine will soon learn that although her flower may not be the first into bloom, it will last longer than her sister's.