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Articles of interest concerning Telephone Kiosks and out Telephone Kiosk endearingly referred to as 'El Tel'.

Reproduced below is the article as featured in the 'Daily Telegraph' on 30th July 2011 which concentrates on the garden in which Felix Dennis boasts to owning a telephone kiosk all of his own. Also available as .pdf files here and here.

Oage 1 of Telegraph Article

Page 2 of Telegraph Article

Celebrity Gardeners: Felix Dennis' garden

The publisher Felix Dennis' chocolate-box garden borders a self-planted 1,900-acre wood, open to the public, in the heart of Shakespeare country

When Felix Dennis (poet, self-made publishing mogul and philanthropist), 64, decided to buy a country cottage 26 years ago, he drew a 100-mile circle around Charing Cross, finally settling on a hamlet near Stratford upon Avon. The Old Manor, a 17th-century thatched cottage with traditional hanging baskets and serried begonias 'that only my neighbours get to see’, could grace any chocolate box. More bedding plants are neatly arrayed close to the house in parks-and-gardens style. Although hackneyed, the jaunty pink and red pelargoniums popping up through silver cinerarias flatter the traditional cottage and hark back to Dennis’s 1950s suburban childhood in Thames Ditton, Surrey.

For 20 years or more Dennis has opened his garden for the National Gardens Scheme. Thousands of visitors come back year after year. The immaculate lawn, zoned and striped, is widely admired.

'We’ve tried big mowers, but we’ve gone back to smaller cylinder ones that deliver fine lines,’ Dennis says. And the small box-lined herb garden at the front of the house gives him particular pleasure.

'I helped to make it and planted some of the herbs.’ This is a favourite place to enjoy a glass of fine white wine amid the aromatic pungency of lavender, feverfew and fennel.

When Dennis first moved to the Old Manor there was a tennis court 'which must have cost a small ransom’. He ripped it out years ago after getting 'bored with all that stuff’ and replaced it with a sunken stream garden. High yew hedges, with a castellated top, surround this damp area containing bulrushes, loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata) and bog primulas. The bulrush motif, crafted into the wide metal gates at the entrance to the garden, is repeated on the simple bridge over the small stream. Two veteran apple trees survive from the old garden, overlooking a newly planted orchard containing local heritage varieties. And from the garden, mown grass paths and a ha-ha connect with the fields beyond.

'I love whimsy in gardens and I always wanted a maze,’ he says.

So his first major project was to design a yew maze, using the letters 'O’ and 'Z’, the name of the underground magazine that he co-edited (and which became the focus of a famous obscenity trial in 1971), as his motif. 'I found it amusing to put those two letters together, but I never think about the trial now,’ he says.

Over the years more land has been acquired and today the estate covers 6,000 acres. In 1995 Dennis planted up the five-acre Ralph’s Wood (named after a local conservationist) with native broad-leaf trees – oak, ash, birch, hazel and willow – little realising where it would lead. Now he employs a head forester and a nursery manager to grow saplings from locally collected seed for his Heart of England Forest charitable project.

'We plant 300 acres every year. What we plant depends on the soil and location, but it is mostly heavy clay. My forest stretches from the relics of Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden in the north down to the Vale of Evesham in the south, and now measures 1,900 acres, roughly five Hyde Parks.’ The project was driven by his wish to reinstate a large forest to an area once covered in mighty elms.

His £500 million fortune will fund its upkeep, and eventually the forest will be used for camping, traditional woodland crafts and equestrian events. There are already 11 miles of permissive footpaths. Not surprisingly, Dennis’s favourite plant is a tree – the rowan or mountain ash.

'According to myth it’s the only tree left that still understands human speech. I speak to my trees, but they don’t speak back,’ he adds. 'I write poems about them instead.’

The header on this page consists of the stamp design of the telephone kiosk as copyrighted to the Post Office and one of the winter 2010 views of our own 'El Tel' covered in snow.

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Page updated : 10th February 2016