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Why is there such a big swing away from using peat-based composts

A. The exploitation of Britain's peat bogs has become a hot environmental issue. Campaigners such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Friends of the Earth estimate that we have01:00 Fri 18th Jan 2002

What, apart from a hit 1970's sitcom, is rising damp

A. Rising damp is caused when water from the ground spreads into the brickwork by means of capillary action, i.e. rising through fine cracks in the masonry. It is usually found only in the first01:00 Fri 18th Jan 2002

What are the origins of the Dutch obsession with the Tulip

A. It was actually an Austrian who started it all. In 1593 the botanist Carolus Clusius left Vienna to take charge of the new botanic gardens attached to the University of Leiden in the Netherlands01:00 Fri 18th Jan 2002

How do plants cope with cold winters

A. It varies from plant to plant, but one rather good analogy that has been used is that of a business. Some plants have built up enough stocks before the arrival of winter that they can afford to01:00 Fri 11th Jan 2002

Giving houseplants as gifts, particularly over Christmas, is increasingly popular. What are the favourites

A. Excluding the poinsettia, which pretty much whatever you do will only have a shelf life of a couple of months at the most and so is really little more than a festive decoration, the most commonly01:00 Fri 11th Jan 2002

What do the experts predict are going to be in and out in the world of interior design this year

A. As if they'd all agree! Interior design is, or certainly should be, a matter of personal tastes, so there are plenty of different predictions out there. However, if there is one general trend01:00 Fri 11th Jan 2002

The housing market boomed last year. What are the predictions for 2002

A. On average house prices rose by around 12 per cent last year, the biggest annual increase for around 20 years. It depends who you listen to, but the general consensus between the big lenders such01:00 Thu 03rd Jan 2002

We have built up a well-established garden but are now moving. What can we legally take and what should we leave behind

A. A beautiful and well-maintained garden is often one of the major selling points for potential buyers. In such cases chances are that the owners have loving tended and planted it over the years01:00 Thu 03rd Jan 2002

This is the time of year we all start making our resolutions for the New Year and gardeners are no exception.

Q. OK, where shall we start A. Only the most perfect gardener (has such a thing been invented ) does everything in the garden when they should. For instance, how many of us kick ourselves every year01:00 Thu 03rd Jan 2002

Is January a month to be avoided in the garden

A. While December can be pretty bleak, January is the month that the garden bites back, particularly in the shape of snowdrops, which should start emerging towards the end of the month. In terms01:00 Fri 21st Dec 2001

Are edible flowers just for show

A. It is true that adding edible flowers to salads and dishes in expensive restaurants has become very trendy, some would say overly so, as it was in the late sixties and early seventies. Some have01:00 Fri 21st Dec 2001

Is it true that burglaries shoot up over the Christmas period

A. On average burglaries rise over the weeks immediately before and after Christmas by over 20 per cent, according to Home Office statistics, with over 70,000 of us liable to be the victims of01:00 Fri 21st Dec 2001

What is the Government s Starter Homes Initiative

A. It is a scheme, initially worth 250 million over three years, to help key public sector workers get onto the housing in property hot spots. Q. Why has it been introduced A. The continuing01:00 Thu 20th Dec 2001

Is snow a bad thing for the garden

A. It all depends. It is certainly preferable to the days and days of torrential rain we have endured over the last couple of winters and it makes the garden look extremely beautiful while it lasts.01:00 Thu 20th Dec 2001

What are Tree Preservation Orders

A. It is an order made by the local authority that prohibits the chopping down, lopping or wilful damage of a tree that is considered in some way important to the local environment. The orders, or01:00 Thu 20th Dec 2001

What are the origins of the toilet

A. It is said that King Minos of Greece had the first flushing toilet 2,800 years ago, but it was the Romans who first built latrines (holes in the round) over running water to carry waste away and01:00 Fri 14th Dec 2001

What are bible gardens

A. In their strictest sense they are gardens planted with plants and species mentioned in the bible. However, there are no hard and fast rules. You could base it on plants from the Holy Land,01:00 Fri 14th Dec 2001

Isn t buying gardening gifts for Christmas a bit dull

A. Not at all. Gone are the days you were restricted to a pot plant or tools, not to say they are no longer welcome, far from it Nowadays there are literally thousands of specialist gifts for the01:00 Fri 14th Dec 2001

Is Christmas a safe or dangerous time in the home

A. The Christmas festivities have casualty departments working overtime throughout the country, and we're not just talking about the consequences of too much alcohol and general over-indulgence. 01:00 Fri 07th Dec 2001

Do people really like getting DIY equipment for Christmas or are they the ultimate naff present

A. That depends which poll or survey you read. DIY gifts recently ranked fourth in men's most unwanted gift top five, just behind handkerchiefs and socks. Apparently non-DIY enthusiasts see them as01:00 Fri 07th Dec 2001

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