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The question: Gardens

Gardening can be as addictive as smoking, scientists have suggested, which means it is a fair bet that you are keen on your own garden. So what is your favourite plant, and why; and any top tips?

Plants? I'm an engineer - what do I know about plants? ! I do love our garden though - it is a great place to design and build things. I'm very proud of our new brick barbecue which is now fully operational following a lengthy build own operate and barbecue contract (BOOB).

The slight project overrun was due to my slow and somewhat clumsy bricklaying. My current project is a large garden pond, due for completion in autumn 2001, subject to the usual statutory planning approvals and financial backing of my fiancee. This contract will be let using the design and implementation of major materials for optimum carp and koi (DIMMOCK) form of contract.

Matthew Murphy, 36, maritime civil engineer, Reading

The best suggestion I have to offer is the daffodil. It does not matter how badly they are treated, they seem to survive, and give a fresh look to each year. They make unscheduled appearances on civil engineering projects. They are modest, yet at the same time very pretty.

Dennis Gedge, consulting engineer, Exeter

My favourite plant is a 5m high black olive, which is in Belgium at the moment and I have never seen! I am desperately looking forward to seeing it, in the foyer of Arup's new Campus building in the Midlands. Designer Sandi Bell uses interior planting to help absorb the toxins and other nasties we humans and our trappings give out and helps to create a healthy atmosphere as well as providing a tactile surrounding.

Peter Braithwaite, director, Birmingham

As you say, it is a fair bet that I am keen on my garden.

Unfortunately, I never seem to have time to deal with it.

Consequently, my favourite plant is the strawberry, because it seems to need no attention whatsoever, and yet it still produces something worth eating, summer in, summer out.

Funny thing is, the strawberry's appearance in the clan's coat of arms . . . Could there be some connection? Top tip: if it grows, leave it If not, forget it.

Andrew Fraser, 50, road safety engineer, Central Region, Scotland.

I have not actually grown very much this year as over the summer I dug up my front garden to give my car somewhere to live when it isn't at a standstill on the M25!

Mark Philpotts, 26, civil engineer, London

My favourite plant is the mythical money tree which has a variety of financial blossoms all year round. Most successful plant this summer has to be KevKeeganus. My top tip is for growing Americana Presidentis: basically take one Bushus and Goreus, propogate under full publicity fed with large amounts of bullmuck, wait, and then enjoy the red faced blooms.

Ian Hope, 39, project manager, West Yorkshire

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