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The Independent Online
A nationwide survey of gardens and gardeners carried out by the Historic Houses Association in partnership with the estate agents Strutt & Parker has come up with some interesting statistics. Members of the HHA tend to have large gardens, so it was perhaps no surprise that 95 per cent of them employed at least two gardeners. But it was a revelation that only 4 per cent of these employees were women. Less than a third of garden staff have formal qualifications although a full-time employee will on average be expected to care for five acres of garden.

Roddy Llewellyn, landscape gardener and journalist, will be talking about "Architectural Plants" at the Museum of Garden History on 27 September at 7pm (Tickets pounds 6). Gardens featured in his talk will include Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland and Nymans in Sussex, as well as less famous venues - Parque Guell in Barcelona where the architect Antonio Gaudi left his esoteric mark. Next month on 10 October at 7pm, Alistair Martin, head gardener at Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel, Cumbria, will talk about the problems of gardening in an area of high rainfall, strong westerly winds and low winter light (Tickets pounds 6). To book in advance for either lecture, phone 0171-261 1891.

Tomorrow at 10.30am, Dr Gordon Beakes of Newcastle University and Stephen Anderton, head gardener of Belsay Hall in Northumberland will lead a Fungus Foray round the gardens and grounds of the hall. Some mushrooms are deadly, some delicious. Tickets pounds 3. For further information, phone 01661 881636.

Last week's dramatic photograph of the gardens at Villa Lante, Bagnaia, Italy, was taken by Hugh Palmer.