Monthly Archives: June 2012

Plants rabbits don’t like

according to Annie Bullen, rabbits in Hampshire and Wiltshire don’t like to eat:

  • Jacobs Ladder – polemonium – Purple rain and Apricot Delight
  • Foxgloves – digitalis purpurea, digitalis parviflora, digitalis ferruginea
  • Euphorbias
  • Sisyrinchium (E K Balls)
  • Iris
  • Hellebores
  • Hostas

John Lees: How to tick an employer’s wish list during a job interview |

 John Lees helps with your recruitment problems

Stronger candidates … have worked out the difference between the employer’s long stated list of requirements and the real shopping list – the things that really matter. 

A job interview will probably cover about 20 topics in any depth, providing only a sampling of your CV material, and possibly no more than 75 per cent of the elements listed in a job description.

Some of these topics may find you unprepared because they have either not been flagged up at all or seem to be marginal to the job. Often you’ve given insufficient weighting to the issues that really count.

What employers will rarely acknowledge is that most interview decisions are made around half  a dozen pieces of evidence. These deal-breakers may only be touched upon in documentation,  but they matter. Moving towards  a job offer means learning how to read the clues you’re being given.

You only start to do this when you ask questions of people who understand the role, organisation and sector. What problems does the job solve? What do success and failure look like in the role?

Your best means of discovery is asking people outside the hiring process. Talk to former employees or contractors, anyone who knows something about the organisation. What kind of people shine in the workforce? What is the employer most worried about in terms of hiring the wrong person for the role?

Look at details of jobs and projects on the employer’s website. Translate your experience into language that the employer will recognise. If your work history or qualifications don’t match perfectly, prepare clear explanations.

Recruitment consultants can help you in this important task of decoding. Don’t take anything at face value. If an employer claims to be recruiting against 30 competencies, they won’t be – somewhere in the interviewer’s mind will be half  a dozen things that really matter.

If you’ve got an interview, you’re over halfway to getting the job, so ask, probe, decode – do everything you can to find out the real wish list. Then don’t go home until you’ve delivered your half dozen best-matched pieces of evidence.

John Lees is author of Job Interviews: Top Answers To Tough Questions  and runs regular career workshops. Visit for details.

Plants for shady gardens

  • Foxgloves
  • Solomon’s Seal
  • ferns
  • hellebores


  • daphnes
  • viburnums
  • hosta


“Number one in the top ten of shade lovers is, of course, the fern. As woodlanders, ferns love shade and damp, and there are countless different forms to choose from. My particular favourite is the Japanese Painted Fern. Its frilled leaves are a miraculous mix of silver, green, grey and violet. The overall effect, which is silver, illuminates any dark corner.

I am not usually fond of variegated leaves, particularly if the plant in question also has brightly coloured flowers (what fresh hell is this?) but a touch of cream or silver – or even lime yellow – does wonders in lighting up a shady nook.

So among the ferns are a couple of Acers, or Japanese Maples, which do well in pots and add some much-needed height to that corner. A garden needs variations in height to look its best; a landscape of plants of exactly the same height would be a very dull thing indeed.

Acers, quite apart from liking shade and pots, come in a lovely variety of colour, from deep purple through to lime green. Their fan-shaped leaves move prettily in the breeze and they are obliging enough to put on a firework display of orange, red and gold in the autumn.

So I have planted two: Acer Palmatum Green Glory, with lime green leaves unfurling in crimson, and Acer Palmatum Butterfly, one of the smallest in the variety (so particularly well suited to a pot), which has very finely dissected leaves edged in cream that live up to their promise of fluttering.

Because I like a shrub or tree that does double duty by working its thing in both spring and autumn, I have added an Amelanchier Lamarkckii. It is as pretty as a bride in spring, when it is wreathed in white flowers, then cloaked in glory as its leaves turn crimson in the autumn. It is actually a small tree but is taking its chance in a large pot.

Or, rather, I am taking the chance for it, so we shall see how it goes if kept well-nourished and watered. At its feet I have planted snowdrops and lily of the valley, a troupe of bridesmaids to accompany its wedding veil next spring.”