Photos: This Dubai expat has grown a 'forest' at home
Potted plants and greenery carefully lined the corridor leading to her flat on the 10th floor.
Step into this building in Al Qusais and you will be greeted with a vibe that is uniquely fresh. That's how people know they reached the residence of plant lover Dr Aishah Siddiqua.
Potted plants and greenery carefully lined the the corridor leading to her flat on the 10th floor. But as soon as her guests enter her home - all these shrubs quickly pale in comparison with the lush paradise inside her 1,200sqm apartment.
Dr Aishah has grown over 150 potted plants, which she said have become her source of peace, positivity and happiness, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
From the living room, kitchen and bedrooms right to the bathroom, indoor plants rule the Indian expat's house.
"Living in the suburbs of Hyderabad, India, I never thought I'd become a plant lady," said Dr Aishah, who is also the director of Dubai National school.
"My dad loved gardening, both indoors and outdoors, and would take me and my sister out on weekends - sometimes to mow the lawn, plant seeds and saplings, and at other times to prune them or just to enjoy the sunshine and the lush environment."
She doesn't remember getting into gardening during her younger years. However, when she got married and landed in the UAE, her love of plants blossomed, she said.
"We were lucky to get to work in Al Ain, and I quickly learned to find solace in the greenish places that dotted my neighbourhood," she said.
'Home care if self-care'
Dr Aishah, who is also a wellness coach, recalled how a discussion with a colleague - another plant lover - helped her realise how much plants had become an integral part of her own wellness practice. "Incorporating house plants was not only a way to create a more beautiful aesthetic, but also a small act of love for myself and my environment. Home care is self-care," she said.
She along with her husband and daughter maintain about five pots every week, which includes pruning, watering, digging and cleaning the soil. She does not use ny fertilizers and pesticides for her plants.
Dr Aishah has even named her plants and interacts and identifies each one of them. "My first plant: an Aloe Vera plant - I named Emerald after the precious gem stone, which has this quality of opening and nurturing the heart. Its soothing energy provides healing to all levels of the being, bringing freshness and vitality to the spirit. My Emerald has stayed with me for 12 years now, even as we moved four apartments during these years. Some other plants from my collection that I would recommend all to have at home include aloe vera, money plant and mother in law's tongue, as these require very little care and are known to improve sleep pattern because these plants do not release carbon dioxide. They absorb even the carbon dioxide we release."
Likening plants to pets, Dr Aishah, who lives with her husband and daughter, said: "Caring for plants can be (almost) as rewarding as caring for a pet. Plants have their own personality. They are living beings and I can see them grow beautifully, some of them are playful, naughty, others are mature. Apart from the freshness and positivity these plants lend, they are also my companions with whom I talk and share my thoughts. It's about how the plants make you feel, and how they repay you emotionally and mentally. Case in point, the feeling of peace, confidence, and even pride one experiences when coming home to find a brand-new leaf."
Talking about the maintenance aspect of the indoor plants, Dr Aishah said it is important to get the right plants indoor. " In Dubai, we get enough plants and variety that need very little care. Most of the plants I have to be watered just once a week. No one taught me about gardening, I trained myself simply by reading up online and visiting local nurseries and farms, which greatly helped as the gardeners and care takers at these farms always gave so many good tips and information."
With every inch of available space overflowing with plants in a kaleidoscope of green, Dr Aishah has been furnishing the shelves and corners of her flat with a plethora of potted and hanging plants for the last 12 years.
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