‘The word paradise is derived from the ancient Persian – ‘a green place’. Paradise haunts gardens, and some gardens are paradises. Mine is one of them. Others are like bad children – spoilt by their parents, over-watered and covered with noxious chemicals.’

Derek Jarman, Modern Nature, 1991, p. 40

'From the time of the Achaemenid empire the idea of an earthly paradise spread to the literature and languages of other cultures. The Avestan word pairidaēza-, Old Persian *paridaida-, Median *paridaiza- (walled-around, i.e., a walled garden), was transliterated into Greek paradeisoi, then rendered into the Latin paradisus, and from there entered into European languages, i.e., French paradis, and English paradise (Oxford English Dictionary XI, pp. 183-84; Yamauchi, pp. 332). The word entered Semitic languages as well: Akkadian pardesu, Hebrew pardes (Nehemiah2:8; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Song of Solomon 4:13), and Arabic ferdaws (Koran 18.107, 23.11).

Although the concept of a paradise may be traced back to the Sumerian epic of Gilgamish (Kramer, pp. 147-49), it seems the idea existed independently in the Indo-Iranian tradition, where we find references in the Avesta (Yt. 22.15).'

'In the Moorish gardens of Spain, such as the Alhambra and Genarlife in Granada (14th cent) , the transportation [to an elsewhere] is primarily symbolic. Here, water the symbol of life, takes centre stage, flowing in pools, channels and fountains. The more-or-less geometrical divisions of these gardens, which derive from the Persian tradition of dividing the world into the elements, along with evergreen plants, oleanders, cypresses, and roses, suggest to us that we are in the Islamic paradise, a place of redemption removed from the materialism of the outside world’.

Enclosed and Enchanted, Museum of Modern Art Oxford, 2000