Several of us are in therapy in the Jasmine Garden. The gardener, for all sorts of bruises, cuts and grazes; a number of citrus trees, for horrendous mealy bugs and other ills; and the powder puff tree, which may, in truth, be beyond rescue.
Yet the positive side is that I have been galvanised into looking for natural ways to combat the problems, using the produce of the garden. There’s an added spin-off: I’m delving even deeper, to make a new kind of cleaning agent that avoids the allergy-inducing products available on the market here.
The main impetus is Dowding and Hafferty’s wonderful book No Dig Organic Home & Garden; but the original inspiration has been an aromatherapist who practises locally, and who has adopted the natural approach in her own life.
I don’t think a gardener ever likes to lose a plant. Certainly not one that is well-established, and part of the scheme of things in the garden. But there are times when, absence chemical spraying, there is no alternative but to uproot.
Our powder puff tree, Calliandra haematocephala, is in a terrible mess. Covered in sticky white fluff, with honeydew all around and – as a result – also swarming with ants, it is an utterly depressing sight.
What to do? Read more
We are in the middle of a mini-heatwave. The air in Heliopolis yesterday felt like a fan oven. Today, the temperature in New Cairo hit 39C (100F) in the shade, and I can only imagine what it must be like for farmers working in the fields, or commuters travelling downtown.
On top of all that, Cairo has been named by the World Health Organisation as the second most polluted major city in the world, after New Delhi.
In the circumstances, the Jasmine Garden is now, more than ever, our retreat from stifling heat, dust and pollutants.