Images of Egypt seen from the air, or from the space shuttle, reveal a thin ribbon of intense greenery surrounding the River Nile and opening out to a fan-like delta in the north. Beyond it, a vast landscape of desert with rocky escarpments stretches to west and east. Here and there, you see a lake, an oasis, a patch of green.
Zooming in, you may think the great urban sprawl of Cairo, and the lesser one of Alexandria, are all dull-coloured buildings, busy streets and over-development. No room for green anywhere, it seems. But this is not quite right: Egypt has some amazing gardens, both public and private, providing relief to the eyes, tranquility to the mind and balm to the soul.