It has been a long time. The silence has been extended. In my experience, writing is like that, depending on how deep you draw. If it comes from the heart then: as the heart is, so goes the writing.
The garden, however, knows no such obstacles or gaps. Plants and insects, birds and bugs just get on with the job. I admire them, every last one of them.
In the 16 months or so since I last posted, the jasmine garden has gone from strength to strength. Honeysuckle and jasmine are happily entwined above the gate; once there were lights among them too, but they were pruned along with the hedge by the “gardener”. Just as well, perhaps. Why adorn what is already beautiful?
The herbaceous border is well established. Hibiscus of different hues are thriving, jasmine and bougainvillea climb confidently above the hedge, the canna plants have taken hold and spread, and the pinks and carnations managed with panache through a harsh summer.
Only the roses struggled last year, producing straggling growth and blighted flowers; but the bees loved them all the same.
That’s the wonder of gardening: if it is hard and bruising work from one perspective, it is oddly forgiving. After the frustration there comes a sense of satisfaction, even achievement: it takes time, patience and dedication to realise.
Among highlights in 2015, we added a bottle brush tree to the border. A guest from Australia, with slender leaves and elegant red flowers, it is a fine specimen sourced from the Spring Flower Show in Cairo’s El-Urman Gardens. The Show is arguably the top event of the garden lover’s year in Egypt with an impressive breadth of exhibits and stock. More about this later on.
Another newcomer is a bird of paradise plant about midway along the border. The Engineer warned that this native to South Africa may easily outgrow its position: that would be a novel experience for us. Still, we decided to try it and see, on the “going with the flow” principle.
Meanwhile, a little balcony garden developed its own life upstairs, overlooking the lawn and borders. It provided a beautiful riot of greenery and colour for a few weeks, notably from plants that couldn’t thrive in the harsher world below.
The balcony garden combined flowers with herbs, providing a mini-oasis outside the bedroom windows.
Success with sweet peas continues to elude me. I keep trying: a new crop has just started to germinate on the sunny part of the balcony. Fingers crossed!
And what of the kitchen garden and the fruit trees? Ah, well, that’s another story. Salad leaves and herbs were abundant, filling our daughter’s “Buddha bowl” as she set off for work every day, a lunchbox in her back-pack. Then there was a bumper crop of guavas from our elegant and lovely pear tree, and a major surprise from the citrus. I can’t wait to tell you more…