Flash flood fears in drought-hit areas

Much of England and Wales will get a further soaking today, with strong winds and heavy downpours expected to hit tonight.

Rules the wave: Cornwall hosts surfing championships

Countryfile: Catch a wave and celebrate 50 years of British surfing

Cornwall blazes a new tourist trail this weekend with the launch of Heartlands (01209 722322; heartlandscornwall.com; admission free).

Weekend Work: Time to re-pot tomatoes

What to do

Warm spell helps lift retail sales

Panic buying of petrol and unseasonably warm weather lifted retail sales figures for March today.

Alan Titchmarsh described David Cameron's remarks about gardening as 'not particularly useful'

Victoria Summerley: Horticulture is not just a career for academic failures

Picture the scene. It's somewhere near Ilkley, in West Yorkshire, and a young woman is carefully clearing rubbish from a piece of waste ground. Two teenage boys, dressed in hoodies and riding bikes, cruise past.

No human remains found in Tunbridge Wells garden search

Detectives have not found any human remains in the gardens of a house following a detailed forensic examination, police said.

In bloom: Bergenias are everywhere this spring

Bergenia's luck: This once-unloved plant has a persuasive new advocate

I'm beginning to think that Sarah Price could successfully start her own cult. She's a garden designer by trade, which doesn't seem the obvious first step to global domination, but she's one of those people who walks into a room and you find yourself wanting to agree with everything she says. Is it the inescapable fact that she is really, um, quite beautiful? Or her clothes, which are all mosaicky colours, causing you to ponder for a moment whether they are real velvet? Are those jewels embroidered into her hair? Is she an actual storybook princess?

Petersham Nurseries Café, Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey

It may be that the sun has gone to my head – I've spent a golden couple of hours in a dappled, greenery-filled glasshouse, drinking Prosecco and rose syrup – but surely Petersham Nurseries Café is the prettiest restaurant in Britain? It certainly looks gorgeous on a sunny spring day – a rus in urbe, or at least sub-urbe, idyll, which still has the power to take the breath away. The Café was born eight years ago, when owners Gael and Francesco Boglione saved a ramshackle nursery at the foot of Richmond Hill from developers. Initially it was just a single table in the main greenhouse, serving 10 guests. But word spread, and soon Petersham was a phenomenon, regularly mentioned alongside the country's finest dining experiences.

Michael McCarthy: Real Spring starts this Sunday

I wrote recetly that four is not really a sufficient number for seasons, with mid-March, for example, being neither spring proper nor late winter, but something in between. And the spring's true heart also does not fit with the traditional versions. As far as I am concerned, spring in southern England, where I live, begins this Sunday, 15 April.

Tom Hodgkinson: Gardening beats Valium every time

Last week I found myself at a literary festival in Cologne, talking about gardening to 250 Germans. Sharing the stage with me was a writer called Jakob Augstein. He has created a garden which is also a political statement against utilitarianism. You'll be familiar with that dry, arid philosophy, promoted by Jeremy Bentham and enthusiastically taken up this century by Labour politicians. It says that human action must be judged by how useful it is. It's an approach to things that seems to make some sense at first. Build roads, not churches! But human life is more complicated than that. We need beauty, meaning, joy and pain as well as mere efficiency.

David Randall: Let's strim these mowing jobsworths

Our writer bemoans the obsessive razing of our wild flora
Mr Cameron was wrong to compare gardening with activities such as litterpicking, says Titchmarsh

Titchmarsh: PM wrong to scorn gardening skills

Cameron criticised for comparing horticulture to purely manual labour

<p>1. Bowdown Woods, Berkshire</p>
<p>The one-mile path at Bowdown (which includes some sharp slopes and flatland) may be one of the shorter walks on the list, but there's still lots to amuse the entire family, including a plethora of plants and unusual butterflies.</p>
<p>Free, bbowt.org.uk/reserves/bowdown-woods</p>

The 10 Best bluebell walks

The thermometer is all over the place but spring has sprung so it's time to go in search of the season's finest flowers

Spirited revival: JM Barrie in 1888

A man out of time

As J M Barrie's ghost story Mary Rose comes to the stage, Paul Taylor explores how his arrested development added to his powers

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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 17 April 2015
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...