Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman orator, is reputed to have written ’If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’. The meaning of what he actually wrote was ’if you have a garden in your library, nothing will fail’. But we get the general idea.
The Propertywide website has lots of gardens and lots of libraries. Yet, since we have so far been unable to spot a library with more than the odd pot-plant on the portal, we’re going to focus now on gardens. Next time around, we’ll look at libraries.
That Cicero was no fool. He also was responsible for a lot more expressions that we all still use, including ‘whilst there’s life there’s hope’, ‘to each his own’, ‘let the punishment fit the crime’ and ‘time heals all wounds’. But he was clearly never happier than when he’d got his hands in an amphora of compost.
We’d like to think that, when he wasn’t being an orator (and a lawyer, politician, philosopher and poet), and reading a book in his library or upsetting Mark Anthony, he would have been tending his olive and tangerine groves, pruning his pears and figs and checking for vegetables ready to grace his table alongside the roasted dormice and snails.
Cicero never came to Britain tough his little brother did, in Julius Caesar’s army. Yet, had he ever come here and wanted a piece of England to add to his portfolio, we wondered what gardens might have caught his fancy.
This first property, a detached 3-bedroomed home in Ilkeston Derbyshire, has a wonderful landscaped garden that would have anybody with green fingers salivating. It features an immaculately-groomed lawn and shrubberies, a pond and waterfall, and even a thatched store (let’s not call it a shed). The real appeal of such a garden is that, now the hard work is over, it is a low-maintenance solution which possesses something of the tranquility that one would ordinarily associate with the Japanese.
Our next property, a 19th century 6-bedroomed home in the Wilmslow area of Cheshire, would suit a retired Wembley Stadium groundsman or similar. As well as boasting a tennis-court and woods, it conveniently features a lake into which the new owner can throw themselves at any point if they decide they can’t handle the grass-cutting!
Our next property is an 8-bedroomed detached home in St. Ives, near Truro in Cornwall, and just 3 minutes’ walk from Carbis Bay via a footpath through the woods. Conveniently it’s called ‘April Cottage’ and most of the gardens you can see here, which are a monumental meld of natural woodland and wild flora, belong to it.
Of course there are some amongst us who get our kicks from creating such gardens from scratch. And thankfully there is no shortage of accommodation on the Propertywide portal where the interiors are already settled but the gardens present a task which would even Hercules would find daunting. Our final home is just such an opportunity. A 4-bedroomed detached bungalow in Ellesmere Port, it comes replete with a garden but most of the land is crying out for the attentions of the horticultural equivalent of a good Samaritan. Hearteningly this property also features a huge workshop and storage area, with more than sufficient space to keep all of the tools and machinery one would need to create the 21st century equivalent of the hanging gardens of Babylon.
Thankfully here in Britain about the worst pest is the snail. But one man’s poison is another man’s meat, and of course the snail which graces most restaurant tables swimming in a garlic sauce is the Roman snail. Taking into account the speed at which gastropods move it seems that this species would have taken a thousand years to get to Dover from Rome under its own steam. Which means that, since Cicero’s time, successive generations of them would have been able to make it to these shores and then return home (had they not opted to spend the rest of their days in a restaurant) provided that they didn’t dawdle.
Of course those who dawdle miss out on opportunities. And this is a timely, if contrived, opportunity to remind you that the properties on our portal change by the day. So if gardens are your bag then remember that it’s the early bird which gets the, erm, worm.