Travel Here’s looking at yew: the Borrowdale trees

The continuous ridge of russet, stone-strewn lakeland mountain encircles a valley floor as flat as a paddy field. Lights of farms are beginning to spark and the cries of tawny owls reverberate around the bowl of darkening fells. In the distance, sunset pinks the snow-dusted peak of Glaramara. It is a suitable stage to approach the most notable trees of northern England.

Murder-suicide suspect left message in blood

A man stabbed his ex-partner's mother to death then left a chilling message in blood before leaping from the top floor of a city centre car park, a police source said.

Weekend Work: Time to tend to palms

The Hacker: With root and branch reform I may finally come out of shade

"I think that I will never see a poem lovely as a tree."

Brazil's Costa Verde: The perfect escape from Rio

It is, admittedly, a long way to go for a party. Even the eye-popping, booty-shaking, gargantuan excess of the biggest street party in the world, the Rio Carnival.

Constable's lost location is found, two centuries on

Elusive site that inspired masterpiece is finally tracked down

Heart of glass: Anna Pavord finally has her own greenhouse

For years, I've been doodling greenhouses: lean-to greenhouses, three-quarter span greenhouses, free-standing greenhouses, greenhouses set up entirely for growing a peach or a nectarine, or tailored to bring on flowers for the house, or to extend the season for salads and tomatoes. Now, after a lifetime of doodling, I finally have the real thing and I'm dazed with delight.

Star players: Anna Pavord looks back on the gardening trends and treats of the noughties

Whenever there's a new nought in the year, retrospection takes over: the best of the decade, the worst of the decade – B-listers rush to tell us what they remember of the past 10 years. I remember very little, but that's because gardeners are hard-wired to look forward, not back. My impression is that we've been force-fed with grasses and green roofs, that grow-your-own has a new gloss on it and that there has been a lot of rain. Shrubs have got less and less attention while hellebores, dahlias, alliums and snowdrops have reinvented themselves in surprising and lucrative ways. Who would ever have thought that a single snowdrop bulb would sell for £100?

At 13,000 years, tree is world’s oldest organism

It began life during the last ice age, long before man turned to agriculture and built the first cities in the fertile crescent of the Middle East. It was already thousands of years old when the Egyptians built their pyramids and the ancient Britons erected Stonehenge.

Treasure trove of nearly 300 new plants discovered by Kew experts

Coffee plants, yams and orchids among bumper crop of species new to science

You don't have to be mad to swim here ...

A slice of Britain: Throughout December normally sane people will leave their cosy homes to head for a stretch of water to partake in the growing sport of festive outdoor swimming. They'll freeze, but claim the life-affirming glow is worth it

Rain Gods, By James Lee Burke

One of the things that makes James Lee Burke both one of the best of thriller writers, and something more as well, is that he has always been fascinated by grace. He does not necessarily think about it in religious terms, though religious language is something that many both his heroes and the worst of his villains have in common, so much as the capacity to move lightly on the earth, to retain both a measure of innocence and a serious-mindedness about what is past.

Dubai debt shock knocks £14bn off bank shares

Britain is in the front line as fears grow over exposure to the Gulf emirate's financial problems. Sarah Arnott reports on a day that sent global stock markets reeling

Steve Connor: A true heir of Darwin – minus the beard

Science Notebook: Few people who have read Wilson's books can fail to be inspired by the natural wonders that he helps you to discover

End of the road for Route 66

Since its creation in 1926, many have argued over where the Main Street of America finally runs out. As the finish line is drawn at the Santa Monica Pier, Guy Adams arrives at the end of the trail

Lorca's grave awakens other ghosts

The excavation of a mass grave on a Granada hillside where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War has reinforced calls for the area to be investigated. "Lorca was just one of 4,000 executions on a roadside just a kilometre long," says Juan Antonio Lopez Diaz, a Granada University professor. "There are so many bodies there that pine trees were planted just to stop them being uncovered by rainfall erosion."

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project