News Winging it: The shrill carder bee is thriving in Kent

Conservationists stunned by the insects’ rapid recovery

Weak laws fail to protect woodlands from bulb thieves

THE SIGHT of bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, hanging mosses and rare orchids may soon be a thing of the past if laws protecting wild plants are not tightened, says the conservation charity Plantlife. It warns in Plant Crime, a report published today, that the law is weak, riddled with loopholes and rarely enforced.

Wednesday Book: The flowering of a sexual revolution

Wednesday Book: The Pursuit of Paradise: A Social History of Gardens and Gardening by Jane Brown, (HarperCollins, pounds 16.99)

UK's rarest wild flower being killed by invader

BRITAIN'S RAREST wild flower is at serious risk of extinction from a rogue New Zealand plant that has naturalised here and is out of control.

Letter: Flowering fields

Sir: Like Natasha Walter ("In the fields of conflict", 2 August) I have memories of cornflowers growing in fields from my childhood. But recently, with my family, I visited an organic farm and I saw them again.

Words: epigone, n.

SUCH IS what publishers (and zoologists) call territoriality that there is still no sign in Britain of Anthony Burgess's One Man's Chorus. As do Urgent Copy and Homage to Qwert Yuiop, these essays keep offering something new.

COMPETITION: LITERALLY LOST 80

This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30-worth of book tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday. Literally lost 79: The book was 'A Year in Provence' by Peter Mayle. The action took place in Provence. The winner is Gene McDowell from Gloucestershire.

Honey bee virus threatens fruit orchards

BRITISH BEEKEEPERS are under increasing financial pressure, as a devastating mite which has almost wiped out the honey bee in the wild is now threatening fruit crops across the country.

Fashion: Blooming gorgeous

If you're tired of running around like a New Age stormtrooper in your clean-cut utility wear, then its time to change gear. Soften up for summer with floral prints: a full-blown rose or a demure sprig of violets, it's your choice, petal. By Susannah Frankel

Kew saves native flora for posterity

BRITAIN WILL this year become the first country in the world to collect and store the seeds of all its native wild flowers, plants and trees.

Bryson's America: If it hasn't flowered by August, then destroy it

I'M GOING to have to be quick because it's Sunday and the weather is glorious and Mrs Bryson has outlined a big, ambitious programme of gardening. Worse, she's wearing what I nervously call her Nike expression - the one that says "Just do it".

Country & Garden: In Flanders fields the poppies grew ...

Wild flowers may be a farmer's nightmare but they are a gardener's dream, because they'll grow almost anywhere.

Historical Notes: The relentless tyranny of the sink

DOWN THE ages traditional English laundry skills have always been the preserve of women. Long before the "whiter than white" virtues of Oxydol over Rinso wooed housewives from their copper boilers to the twin tub, there were devices trying to make the weekly wash less time-consuming and cumbersome.

Genetic Food: The Case Against, Fields where birds don't sing

YOU MAY never have heard of Green Concrete, but that's the idea behind much of the opposition to genetically modified food plants. It means a field devoid of all wildlife - insects, wildflowers, birds or animals - a field that is full of genetically engineered crops, but otherwise sterile.

Spirit of the Age: Adrift on the River of my Life

I WAS in a meadow. It was high summer and the grass was alive with a profusion of wild flowers, whites and yellows, bright purples and pale blues. It was a water-meadow in the upper reaches of one of the Yorkshire Dales where, the thought intruded, the flora had been allowed to regain its ancient glory (thanks to the wonder of the Common Agricultural Policy's set-aside provisions). But I put the notion out of my mind. I was looking for a river.

Peaks, gorges, blisters and vultures

Western Crete offers a variety of demanding trekking, so why does everyone always head for the Samaria Gorge? Jane O'Callaghan offers some alternative hikes
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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...