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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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

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Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect