Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

A microscopic photograph of a fossilised pollen grain

Flowers have bloomed for 240m years

Flowers appeared on Earth 100 million years earlier than was previously thought, according to evidence from ancient fossilised pollen grains.

The aim is to ensure that not a single breeding pair of rats survive to repopulate the island

Dutch police recruit rats to sniff out criminals

The Dutch police are pioneering a new approach to catching criminals, recruiting rats to sniff out crime.

Pretty in pink: Give a rosy glow to the lips, cheeks or eyelids

(Clockwise from top) 1. Fall in Rose Lipstick, £21, lancome.co.uk

Sow long: If you want a beautiful cuttings garden next summer, get those seeds in now

Annual flowers are profligate with their seed. Which is why, with very little effort now, you can collect free supplies to provide next year's flowers. This summer has been superb for both producing seed (plants have grown with tremendous vigour) and ripening it. I had an unusually peaceful session with the small, thin seedpods of larkspur, cracking them open and spilling the hard black seed on to a sheet of paper on the kitchen table.

Flower girls: Christian Dior's ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2014 collection in Paris

Paris Fashion Week: Raf Simons blossoms in the dark to lead Dior down a gorgeous garden path

Alien vines wrap wrists and shoes sprout roots in Paris Fashion Week’s biggest show thus far

A model walks the runway during the Balmain show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2013

As Paris Fashion Week gets into its stride – it’s all about the music...

Balenciaga's spring/summer 2014 show plays out to thumping, bass-heavy and very, very loud beats... but only after four outfits

Goulding judged for over 40 years at The Chelsea Flower Show

Michael Goulding: Flower arranger who served the Queen and nine prime ministers

Michael Goulding was a flower arranger to royalty and to nine successive Prime Ministers and their wives, from Macmillan to Major. They were all interested in flowers: Alec Douglas-Home used to rearrange Goulding's flowers when he left the room; Dorothy Macmillan would bring flowers from Birch Grove for Goulding to arrange – when he got them they were often dead. Margaret Thatcher took a great interest in his flowers, and put his name forward for a Queen's Birthday Honours award.

The Erdem show

London Fashion Week: Lessons in English from Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon and Christopher Bailey

The Englishness of English dress is a very interesting concept, especially as manifested during London Fashion Week. Although maybe it’s the London-ness of London dress, given that most of the star designers come from further afield. Nevertheless they are all the product of the British capital’s fashion schools – Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art dominated today, Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon of the former, and Erdem and Burberry’s Christopher Bailey of the latter.

Jos Buttler hits out against Australia in Cardiff

England vs Australia ODI: Anything is possible for Jos Buttler the fearless

Series still to play for after another thrilling innings from England’s fastest run-maker

Sunset at Montmajour by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is seen during a press conference at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Sunset at Montmajour critique: Nature is alive with motion in this magnificent Van Gogh failure

Work is almost religious in the fervour of its making

The 10 Best new perfumes

Fragrances can capture a mood and ease you into a new season. These new scents will help smooth your way into autumn

Missing: my darling Jacqui... the search for a lost tulip

I found the most perfect tulip, says Emma Townshend.  She’s playful and charming and perked me right up – but now I can’t find her anywhere. Somebody help me!

Anna Pavord's A to Z of pests and problems: P is for passageways, pests and pruning

Our green-fingered correspondent Anna Pavord continues her A-Z of horticultural pests and problems standing between you and your perfect garden

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone