My Top Tips for Buying a Real Christmas Tree

Part of my day job is buying Christmas trees for British department store John Lewis & Partners. It’s a task I particularly enjoy since I can apply a modicum of horticultural expertise to my decision-making. Over the years, artificial Christmas trees have become increasingly realistic, to the extent that many models now have ‘tips’ that […]

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Chi Lin Nunnery 志蓮淨苑, Hong Kong

  Three cheers for British Airways! Why? Because without them charging £1000 more to travel on a Friday night versus a Saturday night, I would not have been able to enjoy a full day off in Hong Kong. And, thanks to a double dose of good luck, I was upgraded to a very swanky hotel […]

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Chelsea Flower Show 2016 Preview: Royal Bank of Canada Garden

This will be my final post before the lucky few (who include HM The Queen, but not me this year) are granted early admittance to The Chelsea Flower Show. The weather has taken a distinctly Chelsea turn, reverting from warm, dry and sunny to cool, showery and unpredictable. As I write, Tuesday and Wednesday look […]

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Chelsea Flower Show 2016 Preview: The Cloudy Bay Garden

In just 11 days the Chelsea Flower Show will fling open its gates to an expectant crowd of RHS members and their guests. Until now my Chelsea 2016 coverage has been rather lacking, so over the next few days I aim to put that right with a series of posts describing some of the most interesting gardens […]

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Top Tips for Choosing and Dressing Your Christmas Tree

Every year my team and I dress a hundred or more Christmas trees for product reviews, press shows, store displays and special customers, but when it comes to dressing our own trees it’s a different story. Having explored every look going, we find ourselves stymied by choice and just a little nervous about what people might […]

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Wreath 3 Kings

As Christmas approaches, I find myself rapidly running out of time to do all the wholesome, festive projects I promised myself I would tackle. Fairisle baubles remain unknitted and card-making materials fester in the bottom drawer. Anything that can be bought ready-made will be snapped up and, as on other occasions, I may shamefully fail to […]

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Paradise Found – Bumthang to Punakha

First off, meet these cheeky grey langurs we met steeling bags of salt near the pass at Pele La. They’re not rare, but they were very amusing to watch and better equipped for the chilly climate than we were. And, at the very top of the post, the fortress-like Dzong at Trongsa, historically a powerful […]

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Pinus communicata

With its smooth grey bark and short spreading branches, Pinus communicata very much lives up to its common name, the bottle brush pine. Common on high ground throughout the developed world, the presence of this powerful pine signals good soil and clean air. Rarely produced, the long grey cones transmit waves of invisible pollen in […]

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