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Marion Wells writes from Maldon, Essex with another suggestion to add to the list of drought-busters (Independent, 3 May). "Buy a simple fountain pump and attach a hose to it. After each bath (if you're still having them), don't pull the plug. Instead, put the fountain pump in the bath water and the hose out of the window. Switch on the pump and either fill another water butt or water the garden direct. If you have the right angles and altitudes you may be able to set up a siphon and not need a pump at all. We are about to use this technique at our single-storey wooden cottage on the sandy-soiled Suffolk coast."

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the production of the garden." The quote comes from the American president Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book, written between 1766 and 1824, and is one of the many unfamiliar pieces that appear in Martin Hoyles's compilation The Gardener's Perpetual and Almanack (Thames & Hudson, pounds 9.95). This is a beautifully produced book; the extracts range from Frazer's The Golden Bough to the philosopher John Locke and include many of my 19th-century heroes, such as Shirley Hibberd. The illustrations are equally unfamiliar, taken from a huge variety of sources including Camerarius's Florilegium of the late-16th century, G Toulouze's Livre de Fleurs of the 17th century and John Evelyn's Silva, the seminal tree book of the 18th century. Hoyle, an expert in the social history of gardening, could not have produced a more riveting work.

Derry Watkins will be selling Cerinthe major purpurascens and white diascias at the seventh of this year's series of rare plant fairs, to be held at Ashley Manor, Ashley, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire tomorrow (11am-5pm). The garden at Ashley Manor has been replanted by the present owners to make four separate enclosures, divided by yew hedges. The traditional kitchen garden has terraces of herbs. Admission to fair and garden, pounds 2.

The Great Garden and Countryside Festival continues today and tomorrow at Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel, near Grange-over- Sands, Cumbria. Top nurseries will have plants for sale at the show and there will be special displays of begonias, clematis, dahlias, ferns, fuchsias and day lilies. The show is open today (10am-6pm) and tomorrow (10am-5.30pm) Admission, pounds 6.50.