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Gardens: in praise of cyclamen | Dan Pearson

White lights: Cyclamen hederifolium in bloom. Photograph: James A. Guilliam/Getty Images Hunkered down in the moss and the leaf mould are some of my favourite winter leaves. You have to crouch to see the detail of cyclamen, but if you do, you will see that every plant is different, bearing its identity in silver-marbled foliage. I have grown the ivy-leaved Cyclamen hederifolium for as long as I can remember. Their.. Read More

Gardening: what to do this week

Prune this Climbers such as ivy and Virginia creeper can be useful insulators on house walls, but you have to be vigilant and cut back any wayward strands that are creeping near fascias, gutters and drainpipes. Tame them before they inveigle their way inside and do damage. Read this Just when winter seems never-ending, snowdrops pop up to show that there is life left in that frozen soil. Forget prized.. Read More

Alys Fowler: the joy of variegation, or why I’ve turned into a frill-seeker

Lunaria annua ‘Alba Variegata’: works wonderfully in shade. Photograph: Gap Photos I have fallen for variegation. I’ve grown ever so fond of stripes and frills, of silvers and whites, of chevrons and sploshes. Not a statement I would have made 10 years ago, but that’s the joy of growing older: you can slough away the hollow principles of youth because rules, particularly ones about taste, are largely pointless. Variegation tends.. Read More

Alys Fowler: a barrier to keep the wind at bay

‘Offering shelter from the wind helps pollinators and wildlife, as well as plants.’ Photograph: Gap Photos The wind likes to garden. It delights in whipping a bush into a shape, sweeping autumn leaves into corners, toppling those with lofty desires and desiccating the tender. It can be kind, too, bringing soft breezes that cool the sweltering and clear the air. But we notice the wind mostly when it’s furious and.. Read More

How can I go green in 2015? | Lucy Siegle

The 118-year-old Farm Terrace allotments in Watford won a landmark victory to save their plots fom redevelopment. Photograph: Martin Godwin Trends need not be fickle engines of pure consumerism. We have them in ethical living, too you know. 2015 is all about self-reliance. More dynamic than the downshifting trend (work fewer hours, move to the countryside, keep bees), self-reliance is about actively claiming ownership of our lives and wresting supply.. Read More

Alys Fowler: bromeliads

– the tropics in your home. Photograph: Alamy I fell in love with bromeliads, the pineapple family, at the same time I discovered the Brazilian psychedelic rock band Os Mutantes, the musician Caetano Veloso and the Tropicália art movement. I ended up sharing a flat with Kew’s resident bromeliad expert, Marcelo Sellaro, and my world was infused with the exotic and the flamboyant, brilliant neon hues and a thumping bossa.. Read More

Gardens: planting a tree

‘Hawthorns are super trees for their ease and good behaviour,’ says Dan Pearson. Photograph: Alamy It was a good move to start planting trees the first winter we arrived here. Just four years in and the young whips of 2010 are already trees we can walk among in the blossom wood. Their branches were hung heavy with berries this autumn and the birds came. The new orchard has also fruited.. Read More

Thames garden bridge plan gets green light from London mayor

Boris Johnson backed the proposed London garden bridge saying it would encourage walking in the city. Photograph: Arup/EPA A garden bridge over the Thames has been approved by the mayor of London but doubts remain over who will meet its substantial annual running costs. The bridge has attracted criticism for the £60m of public money it will cost to build, despite initially being privately financed. It will have estimated running.. Read More

Holly: the festive berry

Scarlet fever: birds love to eat holly berries. Photograph: David Tipling/Alamy Amid the barren bleakness of winter, the holly tree stands out, lush and green with bright red berries. We use this plant to decorate our homes at Christmas, some of us fiercely guarding the berries against birds. But as we have been decorating our homes with holly for centuries, so have the birds been eating the berries. An English.. Read More

Gardens: dealing with deadwood

After the fall: a tree in the woods. Photograph: Terry Runham /Alamy It won’t be long now until the shortest day of the year. The leaves are down and swirled into corners. The colour is drained from the autumn and through newly naked branches, low light falls to the floor for the first time in months. I love this time of year for the countermovement it provides to the rush.. Read More