I'm re-reading 'Arabesque & Honeycomb' at the moment by Sacheverell Sitwell, another mid 20th century (1957) travelogue of Iran and thereabouts. Naturally, some comparisons to "the Road to Oxiana". He talks disparagingly of Shirazi gardens visited but is more complementary of past Persian gardens, ," water-filled canals, orchards and cypress were the mainstay, and the favourite flower the rose". There's a lovely image of Seljuq Shahs giving audience next to fountains filled with floating red apples, "under a plane tree encased in silver, an image beautiful in itself as poetry."
Chatted to a friend just back from Damascus and Beirut yesterday, then read Mr Sitwell's account of his Damascene journey - somewhat different.