Yesterday was the inaugural day of the second incarnation of The Heavenly Gardener. Self employed again, released into the wild to ply my trade for the unsuspecting public of North Devon. I admit I was a little daunted, after eight years wearing the cosy slippers of Cliffe I wasn’t really sure what my new footwear would be. I was hoping for something comfortable and stylish, perhaps a leopard print ballet pump, but there is every possibility I could end up with a pair of corn-inducing, misfitting white stilettos. The night before was restless, with regular awakenings to check the time and dreams involving past clients, catastrophe and shouting. Do we ever get over that “first day of school” feeling? The dread that no one will like you, you will get lost, you will be exposed as the ignoramus you really are, prey to the sadistic teacher. There is no antidote except to get on and do it, once the first day is over you must move onto the second day. That is a universal truth. There is also no shortcut to nurturing a relationship with the garden’s owner and the garden itself. Usually I can quickly ascertain if I am going to get on with someone, there aren’t many folk that leaved me stumped for something to chat about. I am bilingual, my second language is small talk. However, in order to get the most of out of a garden it is important to get beyond the pleasantries, you must learn its intimate secrets. It is impossible to understand how best to approach your task until the soil has been worked, the resident plants surveyed and the mood assessed. This can take months if not years. As I have got several new gardens to learn it feels a little like speed dating. My initial impressions of yesterday, I rather like this chap and his home.