Beyond string theory: keeping flowers growing straight and true

It's complex, but there are more ways than one to give your flowers the support they need

The Bachelor

Grace Dent on TV: The Bachelor, Channel 5

These women are ready to love Spencer from Chelsea forever. They just haven't met him yet

Emperor's new crop: the case for leeks

For first-time vegetable growers, leeks are an easy and tasty option. And if they're good enough for Nero...

One Minute With...Gerald Seymour, thriller writer

Boyd Tonkin

Book of a Lifetime: The Cement Garden, by Ian McEwan

In 1975 Ian McEwan was famous at our school because his short story collection, First Love, Last Rites, was sensationally banned by our doddering headmistress, Miss Gems. After examining a stray copy, Miss Gems set about a full-scale censorship to protect us from what she declared was a shocking, dirty book. Copies were confiscated, detentions issued to those of us who admitted to having read it. We found it hilarious. As a result of the ban everyone saved up to buy a copy.

A model catwalks for Chanel's Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2012-2013 collections show yesterday at Grand Palais in Paris

Chanel blossoms on the Paris catwalk with a spellbinding exhibition from Lagerfeld

Why hire an 18th-century salon complete with flower-festooned garden when you can build one yourself? That is what Karl Lagerfeld chose to do at the Grand Palais for the Chanel haute couture show in Paris yesterday. Guests walked on a grey carpet – so much smarter than a red one – flanked by potted camellias, famously Coco Chanel's favourite flower, and took their seats around little white tables on wicker chairs.

The New York Botanical Garden conservatory has been transformed into Monet's Giverny garden

Monet-making venture: The artist's famous home has been recreated at New York's Botanical Garden

On my first visit to New York, I never got as far as the Botanical Garden, out in the Bronx. Don't make the same mistake. It's a perfectly easy journey, only 20 minutes from Grand Central Station, on the Metro-North railroad to the stop called Botanical Garden. Before you get off, you'll probably see the centrepiece of the garden, an astonishing conservatory, completed in 1902, which makes a great curving C of glass, bending round a courtyard.

Prince Charles has travelled to Portugal; Sweden; Canada and Spain in the last 12 months

Prince of Wales, and Spain, and Qatar... Charles' budget is up 11%

Royal family's accounts raise concerns amid austerity

'This is the Trust's most important plant conservation initiative for more than 60 years' - Mike Calnan, National Trust head of gardens

Secret site to protect plants from disease

A high security conservation centre to safeguard Britain's flora from the spread of new plant diseases is to be established at a secret location in the Devon countryside.

'This is the Trust's most important plant conservation initiative for more than 60 years' - Mike Calnan, National Trust head of gardens

The only National Trust property they don't want you to see

Secret site will protect at-risk plant species from disease

Unique shed category: Geoff Hill's 'Smuggler's Cove'

Shed of the Year 2012 finalists announced

The annual celebration of sheds is nearing its conclusion as the winners of each category are revealed

The Last of the Haussmans, Lyttelton, National Theatre, London

It seems to be open season on the baby-boomer generation in the English theatre at the moment.  First we had Love, Love, Love from Mike Bartlett at the Royal Court.  Now, in his debut play in the Lyttelton, Stephen Beresford takes a similar, comically sceptical look at the dubious legacy that these folk have bequeathed to their children.

The harebell, which appears at the end of summer, is one of our frailest wild flowers – its stalk is as thin as a wire – so it is easily outcompeted and shut out by grasses

Pollution causing steep decline in UK's favourite wild flowers

Many of Britain's best-loved wild flower species are disappearing because of nitrogen pollution from car exhausts and farm fertilisers, experts are warning.

The harebell, which appears at the end of summer, is one of our frailest wild flowers – its stalk is as thin as a wire – so it is easily outcompeted and shut out by grasses

Wild flowers are overpowered by exhaust fumes

Pollution blamed as nettles and grasses flourish – and force out much-loved species

Charities call on Londoners to help save the 'Cockney Sparra'

The chirruping of the cockney sparra was once commonplace, but now, ten years since a study found that the bird was on the verge of extinction in the capital, charities are calling on Londoners to help save it.

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Cameron Jerome
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Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
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Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
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Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine