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.
We’ve had the thunderstorms and sandstorms, the flash floods in wadis (not in our garden, thankfully) and the roof flying off our beehive. Now, the heat has hit us and the garden is, in truth, past its spring best.
The story is mixed, however. There are shady areas where the grass is green, the plants thriving – among the fruit trees, for example. And there are splashes of colour from our faithful shrubs, hibiscus and rose. Meanwhile, the flame trees (Delonix regia) are filling the street outside the garden with a magnificent show, the odd branch spilling over into our garage and filling it with glorious, bright red flowers:
Even so, this isn’t the happiest time in the jasmine garden. Read more
Shape – colour – texture – fragrance… The spring garden has them in abundance. You can add to these: sound, from birdsong; and flavour, from the produce in the raised beds or the herbs planted all around and bursting with essential oils.
Every year I am surprised by spring. It comes so suddenly: One minute the garden is quiet, full of potential, biding its time. The next moment, it has burst into exuberant life, as with the trailing daisy, Osteospermum ecklonis (above). Read more