I was a gardener. Well, I am a gardener, but a sadly reduced one, in every sense. I have a small paved rectangle of London garden, full of pots, with a cherished 20-year-old corokia, and two pittosporums, and various fuchsias, and Convolvulus cneorum and hakonechloa grass and euphorbia and heuchera and a Hydrangea petiolaris all over the back wall. It gives me much pleasure, but is a far cry from what I once gardened – a half acre or so that included a serious vegetable garden. All I can do now is potter with the hose in summer, and do a bit of snipping here and there, thanks to the arthritis; forget travel, what I really do miss is intensive gardening. Digging, raking, hoeing. Pruning a shaggy rose: shaping for future splendour. Dividing fat clumps of snowdrops: out of many shall come more still. And that was – is – the miraculous power of gardening: it evokes tomorrow, it is eternally forward-looking, it invites plans and ambitions, creativity, expectation. Next year I will try celeriac. And that new pale blue sweet pea. Would Iris stylosa do just here? Gardening defies time; you labour today in the interests of tomorrow; you think in seasons to come, cutting down the border this autumn but with next spring in your mind’s eye.