GARDENING in Nepal is an extension of life in that country — a blend of the familiar and the not so...

Driving, for instance, on the so-called mountain Road of Death is familiar only in that people are behind the wheel.

All else between Pokhara and Kathmandu is everything Top Gear cracked it up to be, and much more. The equation is inches equals life.

Life in the gardens of Nepal is, of course, much more sedate but has its very different features.

Workers are cheaper than investment in a mower, so lawns are razored by hand, with super-sharp machetes.

Ficus (fig), which we are used to seeing as the UK’s most popular evergreen pot plant, are roadside amenity trees.

In the Garden of Dreams in the capital there are lush jasmine and roses nestling against tree fern and palms.

That contrast, which can be seen at Ventnor Botanic Garden, is augmented not by squirrels, but by chipmunks, lots of them, running wild.

One of the most stunning and vigorous growers and bloomers is the Brazilian flame vine, underlining the fact that gardening is truly international — that now almost any plant is grown anywhere — if the conditions are right.

The flame vine can, and is, grown on the Island and is hardy to - 4C, so only the worst of winters will kill it off.

As with any basically tropical plant it loves full sun and plenty of water. And in its native parts, its trumpet flowers are visited by hummingbirds.

Outside the Garden of Dreams, is an immense wisteria now in bloom — a full couple of months ahead of us.

The immense variety of flora is, of course, made possible by the fact that Nepal is much more temperate than even the south of the Island.

Kathmandu has an annual temperature average of 23.6C and even in January, it is more than 10C.

That, and a generous supply of rain and water tipping down from the Himalayas, gives Nepali gardeners the ability to grow most anything.

In containers there is a very English mix of snapdragons, petunias, geraniums and marigolds.

But in the grounds of the temples of Durbar Square, roses jostle for prominence with native species including a lovely yellow flowering shrub which is among the many I have loved in this charming country but which I have been unable to identify.

This is an increasingly diverse horticultural world which has temporarily shrunk.

Getting out in the garden is now the number one thing for most people to do.

One of the few things we can in these weird times...