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Coming back to life

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.
Balcony garden 4.2015
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…

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am so glad to hear your garden is flourishing. We have planted more flowering shrubs and like you a bottle brush. Actually it was my husband who wanted that as I avoid anything that could be too fragile. I am sure your bottle brush will be much happier in Egypt. I have had no success with sweet peas and I think that the sun here is too strong for them. I have now planted the perennial sweet pea and have two or three small plants in shady areas. I enthusiastically reported my initial success to an English friend and she says she pulls hers out as they grow like straggly weeds :(. Oh well, I’ll wait and see what this summer brings. Amelia

    January 3, 2016
  2. Thank you for your support in posting a reply today, and for confirming that I am not alone in fighting this unequal battle to persuade sweet peas to grow! They usually start off pretty well, climb upwards, branch out and then, just as the flower buds appear, along come the heat and the wind of April and knock them off balance, and out of their pots. I watch them wither and desiccate, my heart sinking to my flip-flops: nothing to be done to save them. So glad you also have a bottle brush tree – it may need a little nurturing but it is well worth it for its lovely shape and colour.

    January 3, 2016

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