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

Conservationists stunned by the insects’ rapid recovery

Demons haunt the scarred children of Omagh

The worst atrocity of the Troubles has left terrible psychological wounds. Kim Sengupta reports

Obituary: Kathleen Pickard Smith

UNTIL HER very last years, Kathleen Pickard Smith worked in her garden every day. It was full of rare and unusual plants, often British natives that even experienced gardeners could not recognise.

Books: Gardening: Books for Christmas

Pictures or puddings? Crystals or curses? Operas or orangeries? Bathrooms or boxing? Whatever subject rings your festive bell, Independent contributors offer their selection of the best titles to give - and to receive - this season

Open Eye: Opening Up - From Secretary to student

Joe Clinch has been Secretary or Acting Secretary of the Open University for 20 years, and will retire at the end of the year.

Mild at heart

The column When it comes to a choice between a beer in a topless bar and a carpet of Australian wild flowers, Howard Jacobson plumps for the scarlet banksia

Liverworts put down first roots on Earth

A BOTANICAL mystery surrounding the emergence of the first aquatic plants to colonise the land nearly 500m years ago has been solved by scientists.

Gardening: Need an answer? Just ask Victor

Professional private gardeners, with their exhaustive knowledge of the natural world, are a dying breed

Rural: Nature Note

Not before time, landowners in the Midlands have launched a mass attack on that noxious weed ragwort, which grows strongly on poor soil, and most noticeably on motorway embankments. While alive it is not much of a threat; it has a rather harsh smell, and is not attractive to herbivores. But once it is cut and wilting it becomes both palatable and highly toxic to cattle, sheep and horses, causing irreversible liver damage in any animal that eats a few pounds of it.

Travel: Rural Europe - Pagnol's patch

The Provencal landscape immortalised by Marcel Pagnol remains frozen in time. By Ray Kershaw

Sheep may not safely graze

MILLIONS of sheep that roam upland Britain may soon find there is no welcome in the hillsides, writes Roger Dobson.

Gardening: Horticultural horoscope

Each sign of the zodiac has its associated plants. Naila Green lays down the lore on staying in synch with the heavens

I returned in search of the true Greece. And found it

When Julie Myerson went to Kythera 15 years ago she was unimpressed. This time she went to Crete, with three children in tow, and fell in love with it

Gardening: A growing trend rooted in the past

Scrumping is actively encouraged at the Rivers Nursery Orchard at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, says Patricia Cleveland-Peck. It's all part of an initiative to improve community relations.

Silent monks go fast forward into the modern world

The monks of Caldy, a tiny island two miles off the west Wales coast, are moving into the electronic age.
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam