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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Independent Travel
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 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power