I am not the only person to have got the wrong side of the custodians of Italian gardens (Independent 16 September). Nancy Pattenden of London N5 went on a group trip to visit gardens in Tuscany. "Many of the gardens seemed in no way prepared for our group's visit, though they had all been forewarned. The gardeners arrived late the morning we were there and started their mowing and clipping. The exceptions were I Tatti, very well maintained, Villa La Pietra when Harold Acton was still alive, and Villa Gamberaia which had been carefully restored after the war and was beautiful."

Trevor Goodchild of London E11 was at Villa Lante in July. "Our visit was marred by a long argument between the guide and an Italian. He wanted to know why the Italian government neglected one of the country's great treasures. We had an even more truculent guide at the Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola in Lazio. We were rushed through palace and garden in 20 minutes flat." Garden visitors evidently need to ingratiate themselves with some gambits from an Italian phrase book. A bottle of champagne for the phrase most likely to succeed with the guardian of the garden at Villa Lante.

Michael Loftus of Wootten's Nursery, Wenhaston, Halesworth, Suffolk, is holding a grand end-of-season plant sale. "No bought-in rubbish. No pot-bound fossils," says the notice of sale. Prices have been cut by almost a third: a biggish shrub in a two-litre pot now costs pounds 3.15. Open daily (9.30am-5pm) until the end of October. No mail order.

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