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This week in the garden

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Sally Nex Sally Nex | 09:07 UK time, Saturday, 18 December 2010

In the news...

There was a rare chance this week to look around a much-loved garden as it was 70 years ago. The British Council has released 13 archive films, including one about a 1940s Kew Gardens in glorious technicolour.

It's like a wonderfully clipped and precise moving version of those old-fashioned gardening books you find in second-hand bookshops. It also stars the legendary Kewties –  the lady gardeners who caused such a sensation when they first appeared that open-topped buses took detours past the walls so passengers could peek over at britches-clad bottoms. Watch and enjoy.

Also this week, 22 baby hedgehogs are looking for temporary homes after being found shivering in gardens and brought in to the Shepreth Wildlife Park in Cambridgeshire. They're too weak to fend for themselves, so need hand-rearing until they can be released in spring.

And one of Britain's rarest apples has found a haven in a community orchard in its home town of Redditch, Worcestershire, after dwindling to fewer than 20 trees. The Doddin is the size of a golfball and so sweet it was eaten in cinemas instead of popcorn during the war.

Elsewhere on the web...

Whenever you want a spectacular reaction out of a gardener just mention the words 'Leylandii cypress'. Fireworks are guaranteed: as are tall tales of 10m high specimens towering over front gardens or dastardly urinating at dead of night.

If I've just lit your blue touchpaper, you may be able to help the makers of a new BBCONE documentary taking a sideways look at the hedges you love to hate. Landmark Films want to hear from those living in their shadow, and also anyone prepared to lay their gardening reputations on the line to defend them. Call Max on 01865 202099, or email

Also there are some breathtakingly beautiful winter wildlife photos sent in for the Winterwatch Flickr group, Mark and Gaz have been making cookies 'n' cream to paint on their statues and Dawn from Little Green Fingers has some great ideas for gardening-related gifts for kids.

Out and about...

Now I don't know about you but there's only so much over-indulgence and relaxation I can take. After days when the only gardening tools I've seen are wrapped in shiny paper, I start getting itchy: and by Boxing Day I'm outside again, like as not with my wellies on.

Even with family in tow you can still get your gardening fix: many gardens open for bracing Boxing Day walks, sometimes in the company of the head gardener, and at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, in the Norfolk Broads, and Batsford Arboretum in Gloucestershire there's mulled wine on offer, too.

Before all that, though, don't miss the magical run-up to Christmas at Doddington Hall, near Lincoln. They're filling three floors of Elizabethan splendour with dried flowers, foliage and fruit from the the kitchen garden and they've turned the 96-ft long Long Gallery into an enchanted forest, using dried leaves and silver birch saplings. This weekend is your last chance to see it – it'll make your Christmas.


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