I arrived in Andalucia 19 years ago to the month and, I guess, that is when I really started work on the book, though I didn't realise it at the time. But it was then, with a garden to form, that I started to increase my knowledge not only of autochthonous plants but also the whole gamut of imported plants that would work in our climate.
In those far-off days the choice in local garden centres was very limited and so I started to bring in seeds and - dare I say it? - cuttings and even plants from other countries. My suitcases never bulged with clothes but, yes, with green living things. Most survived not only the journey but also adapted well to their new home. Those that struggled and sulked were marked up in the book of experience. But the stars more than outshone the black marks and I progressed from "must try harder" to "good and steady work".
Several years later I started selling plants on the markets, which led to me setting up a plant nursery near Competa. My aim was to grow and sell plants that were generally not available but, that I knew from experience, would not only work here but flourish too. I'm pleased to say that customers came from far and wide not only to buy but also to chat, ask advice and exchange plant growing experiences. We talked, I listened and absorbed. Everyone had their story to tell and I was getting a more widespread picture - plants that thrived in windy coastal conditions, those that did better in more arid hillside positions and those that would take the searing heat of July and August.
I still miss those days, but fate and opportunity led me into garden design and landscaping and the formation of another company, Verdisimo. Here was the perfect blank page to fill, drawing upon my knowledge and experience and giving clients not only good-looking gardens but ones that thrived and functioned. For years I was nagged by friends and clients to put all this knowledge into a book - and here it is. MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN PLANTS