“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Cicero

Tony Richards, managing director of Graduate Landscapes muses on Latin, gardens and his mother in law …

‘When I was a young student growing up in Lancashire, I had a Latin teacher called Mr Basford. Basford by name and a complete Basford by nature, woe betide any unfortunate child who happened to be day dreaming in his lesson! Unfortunately, Mr B also played a good game of cricket, and would hurl with unerring accuracy the nearest thing to hand, perhaps a piece of chalk, a board duster or the more formidable Latin book at the ill-fated, unsuspecting pupil.

However, I was never a good student and thoroughly objected to being stuck indoors studying a dead language when the other side of the window I could see an avenue of magnificent limes that I would much rather have been climbing. There is a certain irony in the fact that I use Latin on a daily basis and have thousands of Latin plant names in my now adult vocabulary all of which have been easily picked up as my interest in horticulture blossomed.

About the only other thing I can remember from my adolescent Latin lessons was a brief introduction to Cicero the Roman scholar and his wonderful quote that has stuck with me throughout my career, “If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

In our family, my wife looks after the library while I have taken on the career path of helping people create their dream garden, and what an outdoor library we have at Graduate Landscapes to pick from. We can now happily select plants from all over the world and have designers at hand that can transport you to the Alhambra Palace in Spain with fragrant Myrtles, Dianthus and beautiful Hydrangeas. Then over to the jungle of South America where Abutilons fight for space with the climbing Passifloras and the perpetually popular Fuchsia. Who needs a travel guide when we can now efficiently and responsibly grow plants from all over the world such as the recently discovered and successfully propagated Wollemi Palm from New South Wales to the giant Bamboos on North East China.

My wonderful mother in law Ruth, now in her 80s, started her garden from a rough piece of ground just after the war when she was first married. All plants were ‘hand me downs’ , given to her by numerous relatives and friends over the years originating from every corner of the globe and much like the books in a library, each one tells its own story such as the birth of a grandchild or the anniversary of her wedding or the pip from a favourite apple. It is a friend’s reunited garden and is a permanent yet ever evolving reminder of her loved ones and stories that would have long since faded.’