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The Independent Online
The Kew Winter Lectures are held once a month in the Jodrell Lecture Theatre at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. On 28 February at 7.30pm Sally Festing will be talking about Gertrude Jekyll, whose ideas on the use of colour have had more influence on the way we garden than those of any other designer. Tickets cost pounds 3. You can buy them from the shop at Kew or send a stamped, addressed envelope to Sarah Oldridge, RBG Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB.

The Garden History Society's winter lecture series continues this week when Robert Mallet talks about the garden his grandfather created at Le Bois des Moutiers, set in the wooded landscape of Normandy. Gertrude Jekyll had a strong influence on the way the gardens were planted. The white garden, the Chinese garden and the rose garden give way to a deep, wooded valley filled with rhododendrons.

The following week, on 19 February, Dr Christopher Thacker will lecture on Fonthill, the Gothic extravaganza in Wiltshire laid out by William Beckford with 43km of grass rides surrounded by rare trees and shrubs. The grass in the rides was cut by night so as not to disturb daytime wanderers in elysium.

The lectures take place at the Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre, New Burlington Place, London W1, and start at 6pm. Tickets cost pounds 7 each and can be obtained from Marion Waller, GHS, 77 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6BP (0171-608 2409). Send a stamped, addressed envelope for tickets by post.

A two-day course on designing and maintaining a knot garden has been arranged at the Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB on 13 and 14 March. The tutor is the garden designer Anne Jennings, who will give detailed advice on the best choice of plants for hedging a knot garden. Included in the course is a guided tour of the museum's own 17th-century-style knot garden, designed by the Marchioness of Salisbury. The course lasts from 10am to 3.30pm each day and costs pounds 80. To reserve a place, call 0171-401 8864.

After writing about Hanne Westergaard's bay tree in Sheffield (above), I asked for news of more northerly bay trees. Phil Stringer (30 November) wrote in about the tree that flourishes in his garden at Ponteland, Newcastle- upon-Tyne, but now reports have been coming in about bay trees from over the border in Scotland.

At Harbour House, Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Aran, Christine Iutz lives only 50ft from the sea, on the west coast of the island. "My bay tree is 12 years old," she writes, "and stands against the low wall separating the garden from the coast road. We are not troubled by snow, but the salt winds damage the top third of the tree every winter. In the spring, I prune off the damaged parts. The result is a short, bushy plant with healthy foliage."

Further north still, Rosemary Candlin reports that a bay tree thrives in the back garden of her Edinburgh house. "It is about 13ft and fairly bushy. We planted it soon after we came to this house 35 years ago, when it was about 6in high. Apart from one cold winter when the outside leaves got scorched, it has proved embarassingly flourishing." Edinburgh wins.

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