Gardening outside in the fresh air, in all weathers, is just a short step from Paradise – one of the central themes in my book The Paradise Co-ordinates. Often gardens are likened to Paradise, a personal haven of tranquillity, where birdsong, the wind in the trees, the rich variety of the flowers and the trees, are all a fillip for the soul. It was probably the early Christian monks who, in treating the afflicted, used cultivated herbs and other flowering plants grown close to their abbeys and monasteries. Some of these were known to have been brought back from the Middle East at the time of the Crusades.
I handle a number of varied and interesting gardens in the North Fylde area of Lancashire. This area has, I think, its own micro-climate, for it is bordered by the Irish Sea, the Lake District hills and the sweep of the Pennines. Soil varies from clay to light sandy conditions; the air can be salty; and it can often rain when the tide comes in. Altogether, the gardens can be decked with mature plants and trees, on sloping or flat surfaces, and they can be almost virgin, requiring new ideas and a great deal of stamina.