I’ve changed my mind. In January, I mentioned My Garden blog was to go on the back-burner because Himself and I were leaving NZ to live and work offshore for a while. I thought it seemed easy enough to set up a travel blog and guessed I’d get organised eventually. Well, that was then. Now that we are here in the Middle East, the contrast to the lifestyle we’ve left is remarkable. Work – yes, that’s happening. Travel – yes, that’s happening. Gardening – no, that’s not happening. So how can My Garden be my travel blog? Simple. I realised that as we travel about, I see how other people grow plants and enjoy public park gardens. When I’m shopping, I talk with sellers at the souq about fruits and herbs I’m not familiar with. When I read the local paper, I read about environmental projects. When I’m at work, I chat with Emirati colleagues about their use of different foods in cooking. Always interested to explore and try Arabic flavours. Himself and I just love Arabic coffee with cardamom and saffron. Always, the coffee is served with warmest smile and most gracious hospitality.
I am learning how UAE and Omani desert ecologies – oases, wadis, mountains and coastal areas teem with life. The oases support farming but not in ways as I know it. Date cultivation and the historical importance of the uses of this fruit fascinates me. Ancient falaj systems in Al Ain, still in use thousands of years later, are an amazing reminder of human efforts to irrigate gardens. On a recent trip to Oman, I learned that apricots and pomegranates are grown in Oman. I love pomegranate juice – it’s my new social drink. I’m in for a long lesson about agriculture and gardening in this part of the world. I applaud my Emirati neighbours who cultivate tomatoes, herbs and small stuff in pots without abundant water. They are gardening heroes. I think to myself, how well would I garden if I had to irrigate, if I had to cope with sand storms, if I had to garden in pots in a courtyard behind walls, if I had to cope with extreme high temperatures?
Flicking back over posts interested me. Number 2 Son who has taken over my garden in NZ doesn’t know how lucky he is with water in abundance (albeit too much at times), soil (though it’s clay) that has nutrients for growing plants and trees that thrive in NZ’s sub-tropical climate. I know the garden back home is on good hands. Yes, I miss Pushy the lazy tabby cat (he can dig his claws into someone else for a change). Yes, I missed the daffodils cheerful appearance in August and the roses flowering in October. Yes, I am missing the pohutukawa coming into its pre-christmas bloom. I did not miss the floods and the spring storms. I did not miss the rapid, rampant spring grass growth. However, we asked someone to mow the lawns (there’s lots of grass at our place) weekly and keep the roses pruned – Number 2 Son works, has his hands full with three sons, maintains the vegetable patch but he doesn’t ‘do’ roses. I noted several viewers have left comments – I had not anticipated this ongoing interest in January, so I will try to reply. Over time, I’ll evolve this blog into a gardening travelogue of sorts. I’ve been interested to see gardening sections in some local shops. But, I’m not tempted. I’ve chosen not to grow plants in pots. I’d rather get out and about – that’s why I’m here.