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In the news...
Millions of gardeners woke up this morning to another beautiful day of clear, cloudless skies and brilliant sunshine.... and groaned.

watering hose

The agonies of our record-breaking dry spring – rainfall in the south has been just 30% of what it should be – conditions have been officially labelled as 'drought' in East Anglia. And we all know where the word 'drought' appears, 'hosepipe ban' isn't far behind.

Water companies are adamant restrictions aren't needed: but even Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman admits blanket hosepipe bans aren't the answer. Wise gardening helps save what little we've got, and common-sense proposals to phase in restrictions instead, from organisations like the National Farmers' Union, are at last getting a proper hearing.

Now, how much is your garden worth? Following last week's valuation of the nation's green spaces at about £300 per head, this week saw the Environment White Paper rank gardens alongside countryside as important havens for wildlife and propose a ban on peat usage in horticulture by 2030. The RHS and even trenchant critic George Monbiot gave it a qualified welcome.

And finally: the tale of the arsonist who's taken to setting fire to Leylandii hedges near Halifax in Yorkshire. Gardeners can be a lot more dangerous than you think, you know.

On the air...
A feast of garden-related delights on both radio and TV this week to distract you from your watering cans; poetry, botany and one of the country's best-loved gardens.

Poetry Please, Roger McGough's gently inspirational programme for BBC Radio 4, was liberally sprinkled with gardening-related literature this week; Seamus Heaney's poem on seeing his father digging the garden – 'by God, he could handle a spade' - is a favourite. 

The three-part series 'Botany: A Blooming History' began this week on BBC4 and had plantaholics enthralled from the start. 'Amazing', 'engaging' and 'inspiring' were among enthusiastic responses on Twitter for this exploration of how botanists discovered what makes plants tick, in the capable company of Oxford University Botanic Garden director Timothy Walker.

Central Axis at Hidcote Manor Garden

Central Axis at Hidcote Manor Garden

Also on BBC4 was the beautifully-filmed 'Hidcote: A Garden for All Seasons', telling the story of the iconic and quintessentially English garden, created of course by an American, Lawrence Johnston. It follows Hidcote's recent multi-million pound facelift and also investigates the enigmatic, eccentric genius of Johnston himself.

And don't miss Chris Beardshaw's insights into the history of the British apple coming up on Wednesday, another programme in BBC4's little horticultural mini-season: it promises to be just as delicious.

Out and about...
BBC Gardeners' World Live hits the NEC at Birmingham this week: Monty Don, Carol Klein, Alan Titchmarsh, 14 show gardens including an installation by the always-exciting conceptual designer Tony Smith, and the ever-spectacular Floral Marquee with over 100 specialist nurseries: gardeners' heaven.

Dozens of city gardens not normally open to the public fling their gates wide for London's Open Garden Squares Weekend today and tomorrow. Choose from over 200 gardens; 31 taking part for the first time. On my must-see shortlist: the mobile skip allotment in King's Cross, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, and the newly-restored walled gardens at Chiswick House.

The National Gardens Scheme's summer opening programme is in full swing and also includes lots of gems you don't usually get to see: the private fruit and vegetable garden at Compton Castle in Devon, and the cascades and wild flower meadows of Clifton Castle in Ripon, Yorkshire both open this week.

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


  • Comment number 1.

    This is where a water butt comes in handy. According to one source ( [Broken URL edited by Moderator]) a single inch of rain that falls on a roof measuring 1,000 square feet will make up to 623 gallons of water. To put this into perspective, we're talking about 400 watering cans.

    Many will agree that a water butt isn't the most attractive feature to have in the garden, but you can encourage them to blend into their surroundings by choice of colour and keeping them basic.

    Having said all of this, Summer currently feels like an age away, but it's well worth getting a water butt installed sooner rather than later.


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