Iran (Persia) is one of the most important countries in the Middle East. It has a very long tradition of garden-making, though no one can be sure quite how long. Because it bestrides the cross-roads between the Middle East and Asia, Iran has had a turbulent history. Zoroastrianism was a religion of settlers, as opposed to nomads, and the early Zoroastrians undoubtedly had vegetable gardens. It is probable that they also made aesthetic gardens but little is known about Zoroastrian art. The earliest surviving Persian layouts are the palace estates of Passargadae and Persepolis. After the conquest of Persia by Islam, the paradise garden became established and the Islamic gardens east of Persia, in Samarkand, Afganistan and India were largely the work of Persian garden designers and craftsmen.
The Iranian people deserve the reputation of being very welcoming to visitors but Iran's authorities have had a cautious attitude to tourism.since the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Travel in organised groups, with an Iranian guide, are much preferred to independent travellers. A visa is necessary and can be difficult to obtain unless an arrangement for travel in a group, or with a guide, has been made. Most operators offer general tours of Iran rather than tours focussed on gardens, but gardens are likely to be included within these tours. The best months for visiting Iran are April and May, when it is neither too cold nor too hot.