Dubai Diaries: Green fingers in the UAE
Sometimes, one encounters people with ‘green fingers’ in the most unexpected situations.
A well-kept garden, whether it’s part of some sumptuous Jumeirah villa that you happen to pass by on a drive around the city, or adorning an apartment balcony in suburbs like Karama and Bur Dubai, brings joy not only to its keeper but also to those (like myself) who are fortunate enough to occasionally glimpse such beauty. You could be walking back home after a taxing work day and happen to look up and catch sight of a sudden profusion of greenery and colour. A pretty deep-pink Bougainvillea leaf may brush across your face in the breeze and you’ll smile, forgetting your tiredness, your issues for the moment lost in myriad hues of nature, carefully nurtured by those who love tending plants, even in the most unassuming manner.
I am amazed by such individuals’ dedication and passion to turn even the smallest and most unlikely spaces into a haven for greenery. Sometimes, one encounters people with ‘green fingers’ in the most unexpected situations. For many years I noticed that a particular restaurant in Karama had a selection of plants outside its main entrance, which always seemed to be blooming. Not such an unusual sight, you might say. But often it is the hard work and vision of just one person that turns an ordinary space into a green delight, and ensures it stays that way, even in the hottest of summer months. I would observe at times a lanky waiter making sure the plants around the restaurant were well watered and taken care of. An aunt later told me a bit of his story, how he hailed from her hometown back in India and how plants were something he was most passionate about. I haven’t seen him for a long time now. Perhaps he has returned to his native land where he is now tending a glorious garden, but the mini-one he left behind, sadly lies neglected. Such is life, in these uncertain times.
My personal garden is mostly an inherited one. When my aunt left town she entrusted her much-loved plants to my safe keeping and I have amazingly managed to keep them alive for over a year now. Slowly, I added a desert rose from Warsan plant souq, a basil from Garden Centre, and a birthday gift of peace lilies to my indoor and balcony collection; I have now been converted from a cactus-killing creature (an unfortunate over-watering accident many years ago) to something of a ‘plant-whisperer’. Friends and family express surprise, then pleasure when they see my plants blooming. Memories of my mother’s love for plants (and arty ceramic pots which she would spot on a road trip in India and then painstakingly transport all the way to Dubai) come rushing back to me every once in a while and I marvel at how life comes full circle. It took a long time for me to understand the depth of her passion for gardening and its associated aesthetics, and I hope she would be happy to see the minuscule but nevertheless picturesque contribution her offspring has made to the millions of gardens in this world.