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By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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THE rain conspired to soak activities at The Downes, Monkleigh, last month but failed to cast a damper on the historic garden's success for fundraising. Head gardener Nigel Alford's lecture brought in £421 for North Devon Hospice and the subsequent fortnight of openings sprouted at least £300 for the National Gardens Scheme, despite the wet weather limiting attendance to only four days out of 14. And all this cash on top of the £900 for NGS from Nigel's springtime lecture and garden openings. Clearly, for The Downes this was distinctly The Ups.

KIDS! Still searching for something to do before school beckons again on Monday? Tell your mum or dad about the Tree Tramp Family Walks at Rosemoor, Torrington, tomorrow at 11.30am and 2pm. It will be a saunter around some of Rosemoor's collection of beautiful and unusual trees, many of them clothed in their stunning autumn colours. Wear wellies, wrap up warm and allow 90 minutes for the arboreal adventure.

IT'S rather like winning the World Cup, the European Cup and the FA Cup of horticulture. Essex man Dave Gillam bagged the national individual champion awards at the English, Welsh and Scottish National Dahlia Society shows – three gongs never before won in the same year by the same grower. I used the football analogy deliberately as one of Dave's cup-winning blooms was called Sir Alf Ramsey.

WHAT'S the tastiest roast potato? Staff at flower and veg firm Thompson & Morgan took part in a taste test and voted Setanta as No 1 tastebud tingler. It was a unanimous choice from the seven judges and one of them commented: "One of them really stood out – it was so delicious." The winning roastie is an oval redskin with yellow flesh.

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