Robin Lane Fox

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Full name: Robin Lane Fox

Area of interest: Gardening; History

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:







Education: Eton College; Magdalen college, Oxford

Career: New College, Oxford: Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History since 1977, Reader in Ancient History since 1990, and is also college tutor for Oriental Studies; has also been the Financial Times gardening correspondent since 1970

Current position/role: gardening columnist

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities: Historian



Broadcast media:

Video: IMDb

Controversy/Criticism: Gnomes spark row over fairies at Chelsea - Arifa Akbar, The Independent, 25th May 2006

Awards/Honours: Won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Alexander the Great



  • Hired by Oliver Stone to act as an adviser for his film, Alexander the Great, 2004, where he apparently specified that for his services he be given a place on horseback at the front of every major cavalry charge to be filmed of Alexander's cavalrymen (Robin Fox is an accomplished horseman)

see: Interview: Riding with Alexander, An eminent scholar takes to horseback in the new film

  • Father of internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox (founder of

Books & Debate:

Travelling Heroes Robin Lane Fox.jpg

Latest work: Thoughtful gardening: great plants, great gardens, great gardeners OCLC 615902645, 2010, reviewed here by James McConnachie of The Sunday Times


Financial Times

Column name:

Remit/Info: Gardening

Section: FT Weekend

Role: Columnist



Website: / Robin Lane Fox

Commissioning Editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: 1100

Articles: 2016

  • A Sri Lankan relic worthy of worship - The colonial-era Royal Botanic Gardens near Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth was created as a ‘second Kew’ - 12th February
  • The garden king of Kabul - How the restoration of a warrior emperor’s 16th-century garden is helping to secure Afghanistan’s heritage - 6th February
  • Heirloom seeds: why older is not wiser - If ‘vintage’ and ‘heritage’ are so wonderful, why do breeders work hard to produce newer and better flower varieties? - 23rd January

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

  • Cleopatra’s balm - If the balsam – source of an ancient perfume – is refound who would own it in a modern kibbutz? - 14th December
  • The literary landscape - Robin Lane Fox’s favourite gardening books of 2012 confirm that there is no retreat from getting our hands dirty and growing plants for ourselves - 8th December
  • A modest proposal - I propose a British Arboreal Campaign. Anyone without a job will have to enlist for National Tree Service - 23rd November
  • Bungled fungals - Myopic state intervention is contributing to the devastation of trees across the globe - 17th November
  • The master’s plan - Arthur Hellyer, the FT’s gardening columnist for 33 years until 1992, had a style that was far from haphazard - 3rd November
  • The dog bed and the Cézannes - Albert Barnes’s art collection moves from its founder’s house to a new home in Philadelphia - 27th October
  • Aster way to do it - A runaway planting is a much better way to bring autumn and a garden’s plan to a close - 20th October
  • Changes in the seasons buy bulb-planting time - Like most of you I am late in planting next spring’s flowering bulbs - 13th October
  • Planted to perfection - The Chanticleer in Pennsylvania is up there in the same high class among the famous gardens in England - 6th October
  • Lit up by Longwood - The Philadelphia gardens, the pinnacle of great gardening, are illuminating at twilight - 29th September
  • Will the crowd go wild? - London’s Olympic Park was a success but I question the legacy of its ‘meadow style’ landscapes - 22nd September
  • Fifty shades of green - I find inspiration in – then in spite of – EL James’s novel - 15th September
  • Month of many colours - September gardening inspires the love of the art in Britain - 8th September
  • Tree trouble - Many favourites are threatened by human carelessness, diseases and mysterious natural causes - 1st September
  • Art by accident - Summer is halfway through and I doubt if we have ever had a more testing year. And yet, through it all, there have been some of the best garden moments - 18th August
  • Monet across the pond - A New York tribute features interpretations that the French artist would have loved - 11th August
  • The real Team GB - The Olympic opening ceremony omitted too much British greatness. Where were all the reasons why the UK is the mother of sport in the first place? - 4th August
  • Turf for the Fairy Queen - Top-class artificial grass and lighting could add a new dimension to Britian’s most famous evening picnic site - 28th July
  • Generations of genius - A family’s decades of devotion have created a heavenly place - 20th July
  • Sham rock - The tale of the Pulhams, a self-made family renowned for its fake stone, is not over yet - 14th July
  • Spirited away - The place to go in the Hampton Court Show is the Floral Marquee. I liken it to a display of true Olympic talent - 7th July
  • Tickled pink - The dianthus is as much a symbol of summer as the rose - 30th June
  • An eye for an iris - Now is the moment to split up old under-performing clumps and replant them - 23rd June
  • Ascent of the new rose - At their best they rival the true oldies’ colouring and scent and share little of their susceptibility to mildew - 16th June
  • Provençal paradise - I dropped the idea of violet farming as I began to admire what Joanna Millar has achieved in the past 40 years - 9th June
  • Strange bedfellows - A survey of what’s on offer for the bedding season - 2nd June
  • Best in show - The Chelsea flower show remains an event with punchily-priced tickets and yet a major reason why so many hopefuls come - 26th May
  • Come rain or shine - The Chelsea Flower Show features exhibits that promise fantasy and ambition - 19th May
  • Hallowed ground - The garden of the 17th-century Kilmacurragh House in Ireland slowly unveils its well-hidden and rare wonders, making for a memorable visit - 12th May
  • La vie en roses - Why have so many of my middle-aged contemporaries ended up trying to garden in Provence? - 5th May
  • The hysteria of wisteria - To replicate the successes I have reverted to one variety only, the wondrous sinensis Consequa - 28th April
  • Glad to be a rebel - In the open air, gladioli have none of the staleness of a few rose-pink varieties in a vase in a hotel lobby - 21st April
  • Up against the wall - Pyracanthas can be clipped into any pattern you choose and can even be shaped into an evergreen edging round windows - 14th April
  • Roll-on Easter - For non-stop gardening, plan holiday purchases from weedkiller to lawn-patching kits - 7th April
  • The special relationship - Chanticleer, which took inspiration from the English gardens its owners admired, is the ideal mix of British and American gardening - 31st March
  • Pipe down - Why do golf courses get plenty of water while vegetables are left to wither? - 24th March
  • Arranged marriages - The season for shuffling plants around is now on us. Hence, an interesting time for the Royal Horticultural Society to commission a new encyclopedia - 17th March
  • What big trees you have - Gardening has always seemed to be a slow, patient business. But designers, celebrities and royalty certainly think there is a way of accelerating the process - 10th March
  • Gardens: Hundred-author wood - Trees can be long-lived memorials, so why not plan an arboreal tribute to literary greats? - 3rd March
  • Gardens: a man for all seasonings - The best herbs have to be grown from seeds, sometimes started in heated greenhouses - 25th February
  • Did the Raj mar the Taj? - The British Empire’s ‘restoration’ of monuments in India was not always felicitous as the new landscapers believed - 18th February
  • For the love of lilies - Robin Lane Fox considers lilies an essential plant for every gardener, however small or urban their garden. They are not for experts only - 11th February
  • In whom we trust - Robin Lane Fox talks about the reasons for the National Trust’s success: stay-cationing, cheapness and a wish to be reassured about the past - 4th February
  • Time to branch out - Robin Lane Fox discusses the best trees for flowers, fruit and colour as he sets out for planting, remembering the great Doctor Johnson - 28th January
  • Top seeds - Robin Lane Fox picks the favourites he’ll be sowing this year. Antirrhinums, False Bishops, Sweet Peas, ageratums and petunias are on his list - 21st January
  • Lucky Dips - Hiring garden-contractors to provide colour all year round predates the DipHort. But Robin Lane Fox refuses to yield to throwaway planting - 14th January
  • Splendid confusion - For once it is a joy to look back. 2011 became a dream year for gardening, at least in most of Britain - 7th January

Articles: 2011

  • Party animals - In this season of peace and goodwill Robin Lane Fox is celebrating a new masterpiece and hosting a reception for his garden’s local wildlife - 17th December
  • Unwrap with green fingers - What do keen gardeners want for Christmas? Robin Lane Fox has gift ideas for everyone, from chic watering cans to secateurs and bonemeal - 10th December
  • Your final warming - November gardening is often wet, cold and unglamorous so make the most of a finale of clear and mild weather - 26th November
  • The euromole crisis - Robin Lane Fox’s guide to exterminating unwelcome visitors looks at how we can control the ‘gentlemen in brown velvet’ now that strychnine is banned - 19th November
  • The Tipping point - Robin Lane Fox says he relishes the firm views on gardening of Henry Avray Tipping, an inspiration behind country living - 12th November
  • Apostles of the potager - Robin Lane Fox commends a French take on the kitchen garden at the Château de St-Jean de Beauregard - 5th November
  • Fall guise - Look beyond the autumn leaves and closer to the ground to bring a burst of colour into your garden, Robin Lane Fox urges enthusiasts - 22nd October
  • An educated view - Thanks to the great artist Claude Lorrain, painting and landscaping were considered for a time to be sister arts - 15th October
  • Châteaux leave Chelsea in the shade - The flower show at Saint-Jean de Beauregard has five reasons to recommend it over the ones in Britain - 8th October
  • Where’s the dazzle? - A tour around Castle Coole in Ireland leads Robin Lane Fox to question who would have the nerve to build it nowadays - 1st October
  • The spring collection - As the time approaches for autumn planting, Robin Lane Fox recommends bulbs that will do more than just feed uninvited guests - 24th September
  • The elixir of youth - Is there a time to stop gardening? Robin Lane Fox gets the answer as he meets a 91-year-old living proof of the hobby’s health benefits - 17th September
  • Life with the asters - A dazzling floral family transforms Robin Lane Fox’s autumn and turns lovelier than the seed-heads on a fading imitation of a prairie-planting - 10th September
  • The seeds of revenge - With this year’s gardening calendar in chaos, Robin Lane Fox prescribes some autumn planting to beat nature at its own gam - 3rd September
  • Deadheads and drugs - Untroubled by the hot weather, Robin Lane Fox says gardens have some eight weeks left in bloom if given thoughtful attention this weekend - 27th August
  • Vase célèbre - The opulent flowers painted from life by French master Henri Fantin-Latour are returning to horticultural fashion - 20th August
  • So long, Lizzie - Robin Lane Fox won’t be mourning the death of a national bestseller and the busy former leading lady of flower beds and roundabouts - 13th August
  • ‘Herbal medicine is rubbish’ - Robin Lane Fox talks cannabis and other natural highs with the Garden Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians - 6th August
  • Rockin’ Robin - it is time for a revival of rock gardening and cites Brent Elliott as the person to guide round the subject - 30th July
  • Strong sense of Englishness - Sir Roy Strong, a veteran gardener and art historian, reminds us that ‘the world still comes to England as a horticultural shrine’ - 23rd July
  • Crass timidity - Robin Lane Fox wonders why gardeners have become reluctant to raise their own border plants from seed packets and shares some pointers - 16th July
  • Buck the trend - Robin Lane Fox says that deer enrich the landscape with ancient cultural symbolism. But should gardeners wish to see more of them and if so, where? - 9th July
  • Gardeners’ little helpers - After a dreamily wet June, intervening bouts of sunlight are showing flowers at their best and Robin Lane Fox is ready to drug up his plant - 2nd July
  • Colour wheel in a spin - Gardeners should view the wet weather as their cue to experiment with unexpected combinations of wild and brilliant hues - 24th June
  • The draw of the roses - Robin Lane Fox marvels at the inexhaustibility of Britain’s greatest family of garden plants and is glad to have taken up growing them in pots - 17th June
  • Beauty in the Bronx - Robin Lane Fox enthuses about the transformation of New York City’s Botanical Garden, but points to a financial threa - 11th June
  • Raindrops, keep falling on my bed - As Robin Lane Fox chooses his summer plants – from Bidens to Calibrachoas – he longs for more rain, the bedding essential that nobody has yet learned how to package - 4th June
  • The choice of Chelsea - In spite of the hot weather, the Floral Pavillion is showing no signs of stress. Robin Lane Fox reviews a first-class selection of gladioli, orchids and tulips at this year’s show - 28th May
  • Catwalk fantasy - It is better to admire the technical skill of designers and the vitality of their work at the Chelsea Flower Show than take its trends literally - 21st May
  • Tranquil flashpoint - Threatened with closure following a crisis at the National Trust for Scotland, Arduaine garden has become synonymous with the power of protest groups - 14th May
  • Sweet William to the rescue - The warm spring means it will be necessary to trick plants to stay in bloom. So much has come out so early that we now risk a blank in the best parts of the year - 7th May
  • Open season - Sponsored by Rensburg Sheppards, the National Gardens Scheme is this year showing visitors the foibles and follies of 3,700 gardens in England and Wales - 30th April
  • The king is dead - The badger in Robin Lane Fox’s garden disappears for ‘bunga bunga’ with a mystery companion – meets a sticky end in a prize-winning swimming pool - 23rd April
  • Dutch dig big society - The Botanic Garden, one of Leiden’s distinctions, is a showcase for the power of volunteering and a pointer to how community schemes can work - 16th April
  • Ploughmen’s lunches - Robin Lane Fox sows and grows vegetables in pots and gets a harvest that can trump their supermarket equivalents - 9th April
  • Eternal beauty - Robin Lane Fox spends days in Rome and marvels at the magnolias in full flower outside his windows and little purple anemones and pearly-white alliums among the ancient ruins - 2nd April
  • A clearer view - Robin Lane Fox was inspired by a conversation with Lord Heseltine, the elder Tory statesman, to take on a timely yet reinvigorating project: getting rid of the clutter - 26th March
  • An indefinite future for the definite article - Robin Lane Fox is worried about the prospects for the English language’s little ‘the’. Over-exposed and vilely abused, its instructions for use are fading fast - 19th March
  • In pursuit of hepaticas - John Massey has been crossing and breeding new forms of the plant family at Ashwood Nurseries, once a bare field but now one of Britain’s major garden centres - 12th March
  • Lady of the Camellias - Robin Lane Fox admires the work of a Big Society-style initiative in the grounds at London’s Chiswick House, where restoration has started with help from Fiona Crumley - 5th March
  • Portents of spring - On a grey day London gardeners have been transporting themselves further into spring. The first of the Royal Horticultural Society’s London shows is always an essential date - 26th February
  • Fine-pruning - Robin Lane Fox learns new tricks from a practical course on winter gardening at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, one of the best in modern Britain - 19th February
  • The winter stress test - Just when the British weather warms, frosts and cold greyness return to hold us all up again. But how are winter flowers reacting to it all - 12th February
  • Ancestry of the ‘English’ plot - Having travelled to places like Venice and the Mediterranean, Gertrude Jekyll’s iconic gardening style was shaped by myriad foreign ideas and plants - 5th February
  • Pick of the bunch -Robin Lane Fox selects standout summer flowers from seed catalogues and last year’s successes. A fter such a battering winter, any prospect of new gardening is a delight - 29th January
  • Island of plenty - As he follows Gerald Luckhurst’s fascinating tour round Madeira’s gardens, Robin Lane Fox finds that its brilliant plants and local flora are a welcome antidote to a British January - 22nd January
  • Forever green - How much damage has this extraordinarily hostile winter done to gardens? It has certainly slowed everyday life but the impact on plants has been interestingly varied - 15th January
  • Wallflowers need not apply - Should a senior gardener at the National Trust massage the soil – or visitor numbers? - 8th January

Articles: 2010

  • No shrinking violet - Sue Biggs, the Royal Horticultural Society’s new director-general, tells Robin Lane Fox about her own garden, pacifying wildlife and the organisation’s funds - 18th December
  • Berried treasure - Robin Lane Fox looks forward to a frost-enhanced harvest of natural decorations, as photographs of glistening grasses and iced knotweed come true for the first time in 20 years - 11th December
  • Between the leaves - Gardening books have been having a good year, with plenty that can be given with confidence for Christmas - 4th December
  • First find a coffin ... - Robin Lane Fox’s roses, which revelled in the calm, dry British summer and flowered as early and as profusely as ever, will start going in this weekend - 27th November
  • Dig for therapy - On Remembrance Day the healing effects of gardening on war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder will be honoured in a ceremony - 6th November
  • Dazzling finale - Rustic gardeners may have a shorter autumn but they have the extra space to show off a wider range of late-flowering plants and the colours of changing trees - 30th October
  • Walled sanctuaries - Robin Lane Fox finds kitchen gardens too laborious and modifies his fantasy by growing produce on less space and reserving the rest for flowers - 23rd October
  • Heritage’s thorny old question - Robin Lane Fox says ‘conservation’ is a slippery slope, especially in a historic garden, and there are no easy answers on where it begins and where it ends - 16th October
  • Artists unearthed - Robin Lane Fox on an exhibition in Edinburgh that has set out to identify the flowers in impressionist paintings, bringing back one of the great forgotten legacies in French cultural history - 9th October
  • Get your bulbs out - Beset by badgers, Robin Lane Fox recommends a counter-strategy he has adopted – top-dressing and planting in pots – to deter furry co-gardeners from his spring selections - 2nd October
  • Hell for pleasure - Robin Lane Fox descends into architect Kim Wilkie’s latest masterpiece – an Underworld carved into the depths of a historic British landscape - 25th September
  • The politics of window boxes - Robin Lane Fox discovers how noble windows need big flowers to compete with so they can give our ancient buildings the shock of the new - 18th September
  • Our own hardy perennial - Forty years ago, Robin Lane Fox sat down to discuss the vexed topics of winter-flowering irises and autumn-flowering nerines. As he looks back on his time as the FT’s gardening columnist, he recalls how he landed the job and the people who inspired him - 4th September
  • Drug up your flowers - No top-dressing of manure or compost can give the quick fix of chemicals that plants in young bud now need - 28th August
  • Ratty weeps in the willows - Robin Lane Fox buries a water vole – decapitated by an American mink on a rampage on his lawn – and sees a moral fable in the shredded remains - 21st August
  • Hosepipe husbandry - Robin Lane Fox, who kept his eyes open on past hot holidays, discovers that inulas and those French mainstays, the gauras, have drought-proof stamina - 14th August
  • Trials and a triumph - Robin Lane Fox’s dedication pays off when he manages to keep zinnias that are bigger and brighter than those on show from expert seedsmen - 7th August
  • An earthy vision - Clare Leighton’s ‘Four Hedges’ blends exact observation and empathy and provokes instant recognition from active gardeners on difficult soils - 31st July
  • Inside Lord Rothschild's private garden - The patronage of Lord Rothschild and the genius of his head gardener Susan Dickinson, who knows and grows like nobody else, have produced wonders - 24th July
  • Hunter gatherer Robin Lane Fox visits a Gloucestershire nursery and becomes inspired by its owner, who has been bringing home new species of plants from Vietnam - 17th July
  • Best in show, in spite of Wayne Rooney - Robin Lane Fox is charmed by the regional roots of the displays at the Hampton Court Flower Show - 10th July
  • Twenty-first century perennials - The seasons have been fascinatingly mixed up, detaining early flowers and accelerating later ones. Robin Lane Fox says discerning border designers have never had it better - 3rd July
  • Cut the clematis and enjoy the show - There are broad, simple rules for pruning different varieties of the magnificent plant family - 26th June
  • Respect for the ancients - Experts predict that warmer weather will lengthen the rose’s flowering season, helping them bloom until Christmas in many British gardens - 19th June
  • Seasonal six-packs - Robin Lane Fox has been inspecting the top and bottom end of the last-minute bedding market, imagining what he will buy if the drought gets the better of his homegrown stock - 12th June
  • Back to rosy reality - Robin Lane Fox views the best of the ramblers and standards at the Chelsea Flower show, from the prolific Albertine to the hybrid Mary Rose - 5th June
  • Chelsea Flower Show - The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most anticipated horticultural events, yet it seems to have been dogged this year by celebrity sightings, searing heat and naked public relations. But through it all, Robin Lane Fox finds charming gardens that win his admiration and make his visit worthwhile - 29th May
  • Budding sponsors - Robin Lane Fox focuses on the old-fashioned roses, fuchsias and border plants during the preview of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show - 22nd May
  • Poetic nature - Emily Dickinson’s love of flowers is essential to the understanding of so many of her cryptic little poems, which have become exalted as triumphs of US female writing - 15th May
  • Hope among the decay - After a severe winter, the temptation is to cut out anything that looks dead. Robin Lane Fox, however, urges you to do nothing of the sort as there is still time for recovery - 8th May
  • Mysteries and manifestos - As the UK’s general election nears, Robin Lane Fox finds meaningful messages in two of the gardens he runs – one of which has had a shattering effect - 1st May
  • A lady and her landscapes - Helena Attlee’s invaluable book and Lady Murasaki’s ancient tale help Robin Lane Fox understand the spirit of Japan’s old gardens - 24th April
  • Kois will be kois - Robin Lane Fox discovers the true value of the ornamental carp in an afternoon of competitive trawling at the Oxford college - 17th April
  • Camellia conundrum - Robin Lane Fox snaps up the flowering plant at a bargain and explains why tall specimens make a fine choice for this coming spring - 10th April
  • Chores and treats - Robin Lane Fox says Easter could not be better timed and after a long, hard winter he will be cutting out dead wood, attacking perennial weeds and revitalising his flowerbeds - 3rd April
  • Open season - Robin Lane Fox picks up the National Gardens Scheme’s ‘Yellow Book’ to find more than 3,700 English gardens open to visitors this year, by far the greatest density in any country - 27th March
  • Idyllic isle - Robin Lane Fox goes on a flight of fancy to Robinia, an imagined green island with cloudy days and English evenings that floats between the hemispheres of his brain - 20th March
  • Best hedge bets - After Britain experiences its coldest winter in 28 years, Robin Lane Fox recommends robust, disease-resistant evergreens with attractive leaves - 13th March
  • Berried treasures - Cotoneaster shrubs have never been chic, but a book that explains the family’s full range prompts Robin Lane Fox to see the plant in a new light - 6th March
  • Respite from the wintry blasts - Robin Lane Fox enjoys his first scent of horticultural spring with an early London flower show and wonders where most of the main nurseries had gone - 27th February
  • Scents and sensibility - Robin Lane Fox recalls his visit to the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, a Chinese garden being carefully created in San Marino, California - 20th February
  • Boogie Woogie among the bulbs - It has been a long and hard winter and the dark days have seduced Robin Lane Fox into planting lilies, begonias and gladioli for spring - 13th February
  • Love, not anger - Van Gogh’s letters and paintings reveal a lover of flowers and gardens. Robin Lane Fox is inspired by his marvellous eye for colour - 6th February
  • Sowing kit - Robin Lane Fox surrounds himself with this season’s seed catalogues, an especially enticing retreat in the cold, wet and dark British winter - 30th January
  • Gravel unravelled - Robin Lane Fox suggests adding fine pebbles to your flowerbeds to vastly improve drainage and even conserve moisture - 23rd January
  • Appetite for desert - Robin Lane Fox finds a wealth of ideas among the cacti of the Desert Garden section of the Huntington Library’s Botanical Gardens – California’s most famous desert landscape garden - 16th January
  • Blessings and curses - Pitched into a snowy, frozen Christmas break, Robin Lane Fox looks backwards and forwards at the turn of a new gardening year - 9th January

Articles: 2009

  • Fox outfoxed - Robin Lane Fox wonders how to matriculate a clutch of unwelcome garden residents: a bantam, a pheasant and an impudent fox - 19th December
  • Floral showdown - In preparation for Christmas, Robin Lane Fox entreats the help of a personal flower trainer with roots in English flower gardening and a sense of humour - 12th December
  • The year’s best gardening books - Robin Lane Fox highlights the best new books, covering topics ranging from vegetable-growing to and little auriculas - 5th December
  • Rules of green thumb - When it comes to garden design, Robin Lane Fox finds it extraordinarily difficult to lay down any but the most obvious guidelines - 21st November
  • Clearing the stage - After three years of admiring his flower borders in full autumn, Robin Lane Fox realises this season that the plants have started running over each other - 14th November
  • Blaze of glory - Thanks to clear skies and cool nights, new varieties of trees are turning up and the best ones are offering their most colourful autumnal display - 7th November
  • Ninfa-mania - Lying partly among the ruined streets of a medieval Italian township, ‘the world’s most romantic garden’ deserves all the praise it gets - 31st October
  • Turn some old leaves - Robin Lane Fox gets useful sowing tips for October from a man who really knows how to do it – Arthur Hellyer, former gardening columnist of the FT - 24th October
  • Turf war - To ensure that there will be flowers next spring, Robin Lane Fox recommends planting animal-repellent narcissi and muscari bulbs - 17th October
  • Ripe old age - In spite of the dry weather, October can be a heavenly month for serious gardeners as more good varieties of autumn plants are on sale - 10th October
  • Under the volcano - Robin Lane Fox travels to the highlands of Ecuador on horseback and checks out local flora that are believed by some to have medicinal powers - 3rd October
  • Out, damned spot - Robin Lane Fox reports on British efforts to keep roses blemish-free, from mulching bushes with compost in the spring to choosing the most resistant varieties - 26th September
  • War of the roses - Robin Lane Fox consults with the New York Botanic Garden that is helping develop breeds that are resistant to the dreaded black spot and other diseases - 19th September
  • The American connection - The idealised ‘English garden’ owes most of its charms to plants from faraway sources, says Robin Lane Fox. A new book traces the immense impact of imports from the US - 12th September
  • A renowned beauty - Spanning every height and lasting for a year with minimal attention, heleniums and inulas offer more than a splash of colour - 5th September
  • Unsung hero - The ever-reliable family of shrubby potentillas gives many gardeners what they want and deserves far more recognition - 29th August
  • Rain of destruction - A third consecutive wet August prompts Robin Lane Fox to seek new possibilities with plants and flowers that are untroubled by precipitation - 15th August
  • Triumph of imagination - In their most unusual setting, the gardens at Château de Vauville on the coast of Normandy enlarge our ideas of the possible - 8th August
  • A meadow to marvel at - Robin Lane Fox visits Chiswell Green, near St Albans, where annuals have been flowering their heads off on the emerging site of Butterfly World - 1st August
  • A living legacy - The surprising discovery of long lost notebooks has revealed how the garden of the National Trust’s Hidcote Manor – famous worldwide as a masterpiece of planting and design – was originally conceived by Major Lawrence Johnston, the American genius behind it - 25th July
  • French lessons - Robin Lane Fox learns planting skills at the Château de Brécy, a triumph of fine stonework and mathematical planning - 18th July
  • An eruption of yellow - The best shrub of the moment in Robin Lane Fox’s garden is Mount Etna’s broom-like genista, which is minimally leaved and throws off a great shower of bright flowers - 11th July
  • Joys in blue - Delphiniums are one of the wonders of a gardener’s world to Robin Lane Fox, who prefers prize-winning forms that bring majesty to borders - 4th July
  • Colourful chaos - Borders are supposed to be a carefully planned harmony of colour, but Robin Lane Fox welcomes the results of the season’s erratic weather - 27th June
  • Cascades and fountains - England’s waterscape is no match for the historic gardens in Italy, Spain, and France, which feature supreme displays - 20th June
  • Stars at Sissinghurst - The fascinating eight-part television series about Britain’s most famous garden is unmissable - 13th June
  • Family characters - Old-fashioned roses have had a surge in popularity, but the widening range of newer varieties should be valued for their own merits - 6th June
  • And so to bedding - As the risk of a late British frost has become minimal, Robin Lane Fox recommends a selection of the best-coloured flowers for a bright summer display - 30th May
  • Smaller is lovelier - As the crunched down event draws to a close, Robin Lane Fox is delighted to discover wonderful designs and faraway nurseries at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show - 23rd May
  • An escape from recession - The Chelsea Flower Show – considered to be the circuit’s supreme world event – continues to reinforce its own success as it cruises through the crunch - 16th May
  • Azalea alternatives - If your garden can’t support traditional bloomers, generous viburnums are first-choice substitutes - 9th May
  • A glowing presence - When Robin Lane Fox looks at the personal garden laid out by designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd, he cannot help wondering what he has done with his own time - 2nd May
  • Life’s rich cycle - Robin Lane Fox takes a two-wheeled trip to the famous bulb fields of Keukenhof – a far better sight than the carpet of spring flowers in any British park - 25th April
  • Seed surprises - One of the special excitements each year for Robin Lane Fox is to sow seeds of annuals directly outdoors and to watch for what, if anything, comes up within three weeks - 18th April
  • Let’s go shopping - Given the most heavenly UK weather, the four-day Easter weekend is ideally timed for gardeners to kill weeds and buy plants - 11th April
  • Cheat and grow - The feeding of gardens is much better accomplished with artificial fertilisers rather than ‘organic’ manuring, which offers no superior merits - 4th April
  • Roots of an empire - the lurid history of emperor Tiberius’s abandoned Capri retreat has not deterred wild flowers from flourishing around it - 28th March
  • Vegetable matters - As the recession brings ‘kitchen gardening’ back into fashion, Robin Lane Fox ponders how some farmers are able to reap supersized harvests - 21st March
  • Not all about Yves - The Villa Oasis in Marrakech provided solace to Yves Saint Laurent and was acquired during a distinctive phase in the designer’s life, but its story also belongs to its former owner - 14th March
  • True grit - The willingness of so many plants to grow in gravel paths makes Robin Lane Fox wonder why gardeners still bother with soil at all - 7th March
  • Black watch - After a heavy snow, Robin Lane Fox investigates uninvited animal tracks in his garden – first to discover a romance, and then to find traces of events he did not at all expect - 28th February
  • Floral tribute - A love of flowers comforted the novelist Katherine Mansfield as she lived for four years before succumbing to tuberculosis - 21st February
  • Ideal antidote to winter - Portugal’s historic gardens have won Robin Lane Fox over, thanks to a new book describing their amazing camellias and fine painted tiling - 14th February
  • Friends in high places - Not many of the plants called climbers actually want to climb. They sprawl over lower plants or wind themselves through surrounding shrubs - 7th February
  • The seed bank - Hope springs in Robin Lane Fox as he takes pleasure in growing plants from seeds, a gardening fundamental lost on those who muddle the art with shopping - 31st January
  • Wild card - William Robinson, the 19th century gardener and writer who was the childhood hero of Robin Lane Fox, made wild gardening known to a big public - 24th January
  • Improved favourites - Using the cold weather to work out his replanting strategy, Robin Lane Fox avoids the subtropical and prefers herbaceous, easy-to-grow plants - 9th January
  • A natural history - Kew Gardens, famous round the world as home to tender trees from un-British climates such as Brazil and Madagascar, is celebrating its 250th year. Robin Lane Fox traces its beginning to the early part of the 18th century when royalty began to landscape the area to the west of London - 9th January
  • Grey, wet and unfriendly - Looking back over a year that began with so much promise, Robin Lane Fox sees that British gardeners are not leaving 2008 with sharp and clear images in mind - 3rd January

Articles: 2008

  • A furtive encounter - Against his better judgment, Robin Lane Fox accepts an unusual invitation to Boxing Day lunch that slows down the progress of his Christmas gardening - 27th December 2008
  • Christmas in the borderlands - In wry detail, Robin Lane Fox describes his 20-year experiment with plants and celebrates their unpredictable nature - 20th December 2008
  • Gift guide: Gardening books - Robin Lane Fox selects this year’s top titles, and lists the best bookshops in New York, Paris and London for expert advice - 13th December 2008
  • Original skin - The homeland of the edible apple might not the biblical Garden as Robin Lane Fox discovers, but the huge natural forests in modern Kazakhstan - 22nd December 2008
  • Winter wondering - Hoping for a memorable close to the flowering season, Robin Lane Fox discovers in Geneva a last outdoor surprise to end his year with a special flurry - 15th November 2008
  • A tree tycoon - Robin Lane Fox finds a mass-market publisher’s ‘globally planned forest’ – 40 acres of international oaks – instructive and most impressive - 8th November 2008
  • Wooed by a ‘zoomy professor’ - If you simply read the virtues of maluses in a catalogue, they seem to be the hardy garden trees that have everything - 1st November 2008
  • Core values - As the FTSE 100 index falls merrily, Robin Lane Fox celebrates with a champagne lunch and a lesson on apples from chef Raymond Blanc - 25th October 2008
  • Financial fruit-rot - Arthur Hellyer was the FT’s senior gardening columnist for 33 years. Robin Lane Fox recalls the wisdom of the master horticulturalist - 18th October 2008
  • The worldwide chrysanthemum - The flower is admired in prose, verse and court life, leaving Robin Lane Fox to wonder why garden lovers so often dismiss the hardy varieties that bloom brilliantly without a greenhouse - 11th October 2008
  • Troubled trees - UK’s tree leaves are diseased and prematurely turning brown and Robin Lane Fox wonders what – or who – is causing the phenomenon - 4th October 2008
  • Judge for yourself - Robin Lane Fox meets the young gardener whose love of colour brought new energy to the barrister’s grounds at the Inner Temple - 27th September 2008
  • Travelling Heroes - Robin Lane Fox casts the island of Evia’s Dark Age inhabitants – said to be responsible for the character of a good deal of Greek myth – as the real ‘bright sparks’ of this period in Greek history - 22nd September 2008
  • Badger-beating bulbs - Looking forward to a more colourful spring, Robin Lane Fox lists varieties for a green jungle beyond the reach and taste of furry wild paws - 20th September 2008
  • Brightness in the rain - It is good to have one success in this amazingly wet British summer. Dahlias are at their brilliant best - 13th September 2008
  • Evocative neglect - Gardens do not have to be perfect to be rewarding. They are so often evocative, in ways which depend on their viewer, not on their level of care - 6th September 2008
  • Darling buddleias - It has been too cold and wet for English gardens and too hot for Mediterranean ones. Is there anything seasonal that will grow well in them both? - 30th August 2008
  • Ready for round two - I have high hopes for the English September. It cannot be as washed-up as this English August - 23rd August 2008
  • The realm of opulence - I have just visited Hell in a garden, a section of the grandest restoration of a privately owned landscape that I have ever seen - 16th August 2008
  • Return to a golden age - Gardening in August continues to be transformed by changes in which plants are available and by changes in taste - 9th August 2008
  • A magical transformation - Should gardens have secret meanings? I think it depends if they are entirely private. If they are, the chances are that the owners will be the main viewers and will be aware of the underlying plot - 2nd August 2008
  • The grandeur that was Rome - The British Museum’s Hadrian is set to be a big hit. The show marks the point at which the museum’s new drive for exhibitions really comes off - 25th July 2008
  • Visionary artists - I have just seen a heavenly English garden. It is not particularly big. There are no gardeners, except its devoted owners. It is their vision - 26th July 2008
  • Worlds apart - Islands encourage thoughts of perfection and escape, domination and retreat. From Scotland to Tasmania, they are ideal settings for garden-watchers’ dreams and gardeners’ determined efforts - 19th July 2008
  • Forgotten gifts - Gardening is not just an extravagance, a game of pretence or a competition in trendy design. It is also productive and capable of doing us all good - 12th July 2008
  • A thoroughly modern emperor - We are about to see a Roman emperor in the old Reading Room of the British Museum. Hard on the heels of its highly successful exhibition on China’s first emperor, the museum hosts a show on Hadrian, whose wall in the north of Britain is our answer to China’s Great Wall - 11th July 2008
  • The green American dream - The English country house dream has lost none of its magic. It is even stronger after a decade of City of London bonuses - 5th July 2008
  • A first-class opening - We have just passed midsummer in a continuing haze of roses and cool evenings. How has the season been at flowerbed level so far? - 28th June 2008
  • Breadth of summer - The essence of summer is to be found in a garden and English gardens are the best places to find it - 21st June 2008
  • A sight to transcend all others - Behind every true gardener’s eye lies a mirage of faraway China. So many of our best garden plants derive from Chinese parents - 14th June 2008
  • Long to reign over us - Iwould like to read my roses' memoirs. I would not be wanting their wall's eye view on all the human activity in the garden, let alone their views on their owner - 7th June 2008
  • Well-shaped winners - This weekend sees a frenzied burst of gardening. Frosts are a distant risk in the UK now and even the sceptics are setting about bedding out half-hardy plants for the summer. What are the options? - 31st May 2008
  • The real stars of the show - My visit to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show got off to a slow start. If you have just come from fresh fields of buttercups, it takes a while to adjust to stylised exhibits of lilies and pre-cooled narcissi - 24th May 2008
  • Supreme and stately shrubs - It has been warm, green and heavenly in the UK in recent days and there cannot be a lovelier time for any landscape in the world - 17th May 2008
  • An absentee's imprint - Do owners imprint themselves on their gardens? In their lifetimes, of course they do. Gardening is an art and its practitioners are all artists in a small way who express themselves by what they place and plant. What happens when they die? - 10th May 2008
  • Spring revelations - We have had a slow start to spring gardening in the UK but the season has brought itself back into order - 3rd May 2008
  • Inside out - Like their plants, gardens attract labels that try to brand and define them. The most popular label is still “the room outside” - 26th April 2008
  • In the ultimate home of wild cherries - The cherry trees are flowering in our home towns, but there are no British festivals of cherry blossom - 19th April 2008
  • Thinking outside of the bed - I have just seen a vegetable plot after my own heart - 14th April 2008
  • Tickled by pinks - Like financial analysts, gardeners need to look ahead. Some of the plants that make a difference have to be organised now but it is hard to give them time when everything else is about to rush into growth - 5th April 2008
  • The great haul of China - What are gardeners gaining from the commercial openness of China? The chances are that if you like a plant, it will ultimately derive from a Chinese habitat - 29th March 2008
  • Pathway to success - Such an early Easter is a great chance for gardeners. We are never ahead of the game but at least we can start the growing season on better terms with it - 24th March 2008
  • A beautiful obsession - More than 600 new gardens are opening to the public this year in Britain, a tribute to one of our most popular cultural habits, garden visiting - 15th March 2008
  • An oasis in the home of oil rigs - Gardening in adversity is my theme of the moment. It stops us all complaining about our local problems - 7th March 2008
  • Out in the cold - The early bursts of spring weather have been enchanting but they have also had their cost - 1st March 2008
  • Everything seems possible - Normally, I am fast-forwarded into spring by a visit to an early flower show in London - 23rd February 2008
  • Mimosas in February - Global warming is not all bad news for gardeners. It does wonders for winter-flowering plants in most of Britain - 16th February 2008
  • The compact clematis - In prehistoric times, miniature rhinoceroses and scaled-down hippos ran around on islands where they survived in isolation from bigger brutes. They were so cute that the worst of all predators, man, hunted the pocket-sized miniatures to death - 9th February 2008
  • No need to gild the lily - I need prompting to plant lilies and I expect you do too - 2nd February 2008
  • Why I’m going to seeds - Under the rain and hostile weather in Britain, l have had snowdrops for a fortnight and daffodils in flower since New Year’s day. I am rather proud of these early prequels to spring - 26th January 2008
  • Good things come in trees - The old advice on planting was to wait until spring to buy and let the plants die with their nursery-growers rather than in customers’ gardens. I never felt very comfortable with it - 19th January 2008
  • Keep the party going - How soon is it before you kill off your seasonal Christmas plants? There is quite a silence about this issue, even among deeply committed gardeners who think they are working to save the planet - 12th January 2008
  • Gardens don’t age gracefully - My new year is full of good intentions that it would be optimistic to call resolutions. In the garden, I will be more punctual - 5th January 2008

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