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This week in the garden

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 09:13 UK time, Saturday, 6 November 2010

Autumn leaves (c) Sally Nex


In the news....

If you're about to stock up on wildlife-friendly goodies to help your local ladybirds, lacewings and hedgehogs get through the winter, just hold on a moment. Independent testers Which? Gardening reported this week on a year-long test of all those ladybird hotels, lacewing chambers, hedgehog boxes and bumblebee nests you buy in the hope of helping wildlife through winter.

They found not one lacewing, butterfly or ladybird made use of the expensive facilities laid on for them. In fact home-made versions were more successful: log piles, compost heaps and nettle patches are far more popular with passing wildlife, and a lot cheaper, too.

Gardening clip of the week: you may be astonished to know that Top Gear presenter James May has been doing some gardening for his current series Man Lab. Perhaps his foray into the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year went to his head. As you might expect, it involves driving: but the vehicle in question is a picnic table. Watch and giggle.

Elsewhere on the web...

It's Bonfire Night weekend, and there's autumn in the air, inspiring garden bloggers everywhere to get out their cameras and take some dazzling shots for the latest blogging meme from America, Dave's Fall Colour Project, mapping autumn arriving in gardens across the world.

Happy Mouffetard took things literally, capturing the change in a leaf over just one week), VP has been finding beauty on her local roundabout, and Allan Jenkins over at the Guardian is showing off how gorgeous your allotment can look at this time of year. Meanwhile if you're getting fed up of all that orange, yellow and red, Karen at The Artists' Garden has gone bright pink.

Incidentally, on the subject of bonfires: it may be worth reading wildlife gardener Miranda Hodgson's timely advice on the RHS blog before you take a match to yours. Slumbering hedgehogs will thank you forever.

Out and about...

If you enjoyed Clive Nichols's post on garden photography last week, you'll love the early-morning  photography sessions held at RHS Garden Wisley throughout November. Anglesey Abbey in north Wales also holds a photography workshop on autumn colours on Tuesday (9 November).

A winter garden is something we all wish we'd planted at this time of year – and at Dunham Massey, in Cheshire, they've just created the UK's largest. Find out from the head gardener how they did it on Thursday (11 November).

And for an extra garden challenge this winter, go diamond-hunting at RHS Harlow Carr in Yorkshire. They're celebrating their 60th anniversary this month by burying a £2,500 diamond somewhere in the grounds. You follow clues around the garden, work out where you think it is and mark the spot with an X. The closest entry to its actual location wins the gem. Incidentally, it's not worth taking a spade along: the real thing is locked up safely till 28th November, when the winner is announced. Good luck!

Sally Nex is a garden writer and blogger and part of the BBC Gardening team.


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