Soccer - Roy Hodgson

Cheer up, Roy. Just think of the Queen Anne’s lace-filled hedgerows and the blooming foxgloves that await you on your return home. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

How vainly men themselves amaze / To win the palm, the oak, or bays“. Or, in the case of Roy Hodgson’s squad, not to win it. But, as the poet Andrew Marvell recognised in The Garden, they will have their consolation: they’re just in time to catch peak season in this green and pleasant land. The roses and foxgloves, scabious and oxeye daisies bloom. Queen Anne’s lace fills the hedgerows, honeysuckle and jasmine scent the air. The English may not be best at football, yet we remain pre-eminent in the field of gardens and garden literature – as celebrated at a festival this weekend at Petworth House in Sussex. High walls still surround many of the country’s great gardens, and few of us have a patch of our own. But here the deer park is free to the public and some of the best 20th-century plantings – the Botanic Gardens near Southport, Myddleton in Enfield – are free too. No ball games, just “green thought, in a green shade“.