Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

27 Jan, '06

I was watching my very first vlog again and was surprised at the amount of change that happened to the garden over the last 6 months. I am not done with it yet, not by a long shot, but just seeing the changes that happened to it since I had the initial landscapers is amazing.

Of course, I went ahead and changed everything that they have done; pisses me off thinking of the amount of money I paid them for doing something that I ultimately changed, but I guess this is part of the learning experience… and their ground and irrigation prep work. Not all is lost.

This is the first glimpse that you get of my house, without any coy hiding of corners and parts! So enjoy, and go easy on me please. If you have any ideas regarding the garden I would love to hear them. I would particularly welcome your input in what shrubs I could use to make my “bulbs patch” look more permanent.

I am also looking for addresses and recommendations of big garden centres in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, so if you know any and would recommend them, let me know please with good contact and address details. This is the excuse that Frances was waiting for for 19 years; a trip for her to Saudi without any objections from me! I have refused to take her across before because I just couldn’t be bothered, and the real reason of course is that if she saw how good the shopping is there, she would drag me there every weekend!

Anyway, enjoy, and happy Friday once again!

[update: here’s my YouTube videos rss feed if you want to subscribe to it.]

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  1. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    oh my god … in germany it’s 7 degrees celsius below zero right now, everything white, snow, cold … brrrrrrr … would like to chill out a little in your garden 🙂

  2. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Mahmood, it is after four in the morning here and I just got your post. Obviously, it is a much different time of day there now.

    In any case, your pictures of your gardening triumphs are somewhat lacking. It is recorded in my family tree that my mother “was an exceptional gardener,” and she was. There is a video tape of my brother’s wedding in our back yard which shows her successs; much more successs than you post on your blog.

    As if that’s not enough, my uncle (my mother’s brother) lives in Arizona and grows magnificent cacti.

    What’s up dude?…Mr. Exotic-Plant-Guy?

    Please show us some full blosseming plants.


  3. Dan says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Okay…okay. Since I have dial-up, and it takes so long to download videos, you, Sir, get the benefit of the doubt on THIS one. I will watch your video at another time.

    I salute you Mahmood!
    Thank you. Good night.


  4. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…


    Gimme a break man, I’ve only started this gig a few months ago! I’m sure your mother and uncle have been doing it for quite a while to get the results you speak of. Still, gives me something to look forward to…

  5. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Congrat’s on your gardening. It’s a great past time. My Mom is an expert gardener. My partents retired & turned a sandhill lnto an Oasis full of Roses, vines & Flowers in the desert of West Texas.Way to go!

    Walt, Texas

  6. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Oh thanks very much!

    My wife and I had a very busy weekend in the garden and it was wonderful.

    The premise was to go to the garden centre “for a look,” and she warned my about spending money or buying anything. Of course I acquiesced to her request, momentarily!

    About a couple of hours later we came back with boxes packed in her car and no more room for anything else!

    That “bulbs patch” now has more plants and it’s looking nicely filled now: 3 variegated crotons, a rose bush and 2 thin-leafed ixoras.

    The front garden received some additions too: the patch in front of my study now has a bottle-brush, removed the Bahraini rose from there as it wasn’t very happy and put it in the bulbs patch and removed a tall cactus and potted that and now it lives by the front door.

    Planted another bottle brush at the front door’s planter.

    Filled up five 1-meter wide pots with 20 geraniums, mostly red, and distributed those to the balconies: 2 in Hanan’s and 3 in ours. Will take pictures once they’ve settled, should look quite a sight!

    Put 6 red geraniums in a big pot by the pool. A profusion of colour that was needed in that particular area.

    And to repair what the dogs ripped through at the front path borders, I’ve filled in the gaps with 19 geraniums.

    Frances got a very nice asparagus that we placed in a huge clay jar, the pot fitted quite nicely in its mouth. That jar looks like it’s got dreadlocks now! Frances called it Bob 🙂

    All jobs except for the balcony geraniums were done this morning at 6.30 or so. Came late to the office this morning and now my back is killing me! Satisfied though… quite an eventful weekend.

  7. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    I think it will take me quite a while to be an expert at it, but you’re right. It’s a fantastic activity and perfect for my kind of job as it takes me away from the computer and everything else and be outside.

    The problem with that is that “modifications” never stop! Now that the “bulbs patch” is nicely filled, it’s time to turn my attention to the front garden…. I’m planning a pond, a small fountain, lilies and fish!

    I might as well create a nice patio-like area around that pond as well!! 😀

  8. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    I really enjoy your blog.
    I just wanted to say that I think your garden is wonderful. I live in an apartment in Bahrain and miss having a proper garden. I have started to plant a window box of different herbs and it has become my pet project and substitute for a garden. I look forward to furture posts so we can see your garden further develop. It looks like a lovely relaxing place.


  9. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Oh Yea, there is always something that needs to be done, or something to be changed. Even once the gardens is well established. Just keeping it maintained takes quite a bit of work. You may not be an expert yet, but you will be. It grows on you, HA!

    Pond & Patio idea sounds great. My folks have a similar arrangement substituting a big bird bath for the fish pond. It’s beautiful, people have choosen to be married under it. The patio has a cedar arbor built over it with an opening in the center. The Arbor is enclosed by vines. The vines form walls to keep the wind & hot evening sun out, a hip high hedge fences in the other sides. Takes a few years for the vines to form a good canopy. West Texas can get just a little warm in the Summer months & the vine canopy is very funtional.The only thing I’ve ever seen that I liked better was a contractor who built a combination Patio, Green House & Wet Bar.
    Looks very much like a Bavarian Beer Garden.

    Happy Gardening!

  10. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Thanks Jo, I shall.

  11. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Found your blog from the Bloggies; most interesting, your garden, some types of plants that will not grow in the climate zone in which I live. I have been very successful planting the herb thyme around bulbs. It is a ground cover, has a small white flower and one can also use it for cooking. Also keeps the weeds at bay. As I love to both garden and cook, I will be voting for your blog on the basis of the vlog of your garden alone! Good luck and most of all, have fun.

  12. anonymous says:

    Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    you need to keep the roots of the clematis cool , since as a climber in nature they would be in the shade under a tree or what ever it was growing through. try shading the whole pot .

  13. mahmood says:

    Re: Vlog #19: The garden, 6 months on…

    Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll have a look into it.

  14. anonymous says:

    from Liz in the US

    Great blog, just found it.
    The beauty of gardening is that there is always next season. I’m glad to meet another garden freak, who spends all spare cash at the plant store, and dreams of what to put in next.
    Thanks, Liz

  15. Nkb says:

    Do you know marigolds? I think they would be perfect for you to try. They are easy to grow. They can be planted directly into the ground from seed and are very rewarding. Just pinch off the old flowers when they are done blooming. Keep them well watered. Our best marigold source is Burpee Seeds, http://www.burpee.com. Put in “marigolds” in the search. There are 4 pages of results. You could try zone 10, for a zone, if you are searching. Burpee has mail order (I have used it) and probably could send you the seeds. They developed the white marigold, which is a rarity. The red and yellow ones are very pretty, and much cheaper, but all are cheap enough. If nothing else, you will love the pictures. Try the short marigolds, which look good at the front of the garden

    Also suggest you try chives, which are also easy to grow. You can grow them from seeds. They are also very easy. They can be used in your cooking and also have a very pretty purple flower.

    In general, I think you need to try herbs such as lavender, thyme, sage. They love heat and dryness. They are easy to grow and look very nice. These would all be additions to more showy ornimental plants.

    Sign up for the free email newsletter from Burpee. While its in the USA, we do have desert here, and the tips are useful.

  16. mahmood says:

    NKB thank you for your valuable advice. More please! I’m still a neophyte when it comes to gardening.

    I have tried marigolds and planted them from seedlings, unfortunately however they never survived. I have no idea why as I planted them at the start of the season, kept them well watered (on a drip) and nicely spaced, but they still couldn’t survive. I love marigolds, and when I went to Dubai a few months ago the whole city sidewalks were filled to the brim with marigolds and that made the whole city a lot more welcoming, and of course added tremendous colour there as well which the residents enjoyed, I am sure.

    Frances planted lavender at the front garden, a clump of 5 seedlings, under the palm tree and not too much in the direct line of sprinklers and they are doing very well indeed! So that filled that part of the garden quite nicely and they provide a very nice contrast with small “coffee plants” (a small succulent) border.

    As summer is already upon us in Bahrain, I’m looking through books and sites as to what opportunities there are for summer plantings.. I’m still not decided there… but most of the Amaryllis are out of the ground (they’re done flowering) and drying in preparation to forcing them, putting them in the fridge, so that in 6 weeks’ time or so they will go in their individual pots for inside blooming in the summer! That’s the idea anyway…

    Liz, thanks! It certainly looks like it as I spent and shall continue to spend a substantial amount of my income on this new passion!

  17. Nkb says:

    I think the problem is the drip. The constant watering may be rotting out the roots. Make sure the drip is 2 hours, but then let the soil dry out. Marigolds love sun. They don’t mind being a little dry. Don’t space them so far apart. Keep trying with the marigolds, because Pretty soon you will get the hang of it after trying diffent solutions. Once you learn to grow them, you will wonder why at first it seemed hard to do. At Burpee, they really want to sell you seeds, so their customer service is excellent. You could write them. The email is on their site. Also, read the newsletter. If you are using mostly sand, I think you need to enrich your soil. Burpee will also sell you soil test kits and the information how to use it, test your soil, and correct it. You can enrich your soil with compost. Here are instructions from a desert gardening guide: http://desertbotanical.org/index.aspx?pageID=596.

    Here are some plants which are good for the desert, so you wouldn’t have to do so much work: http://www.desertusa.com/flora.html. One other tip: Next time you see those marigolds in Dubai, don’t just look at them to admire. Look carfully for flowers that are done blooming and the petals are dried up. They are full of seeds. Pick as many of these as you can and put them in your pocket. It is likely that this is the very best variety for your garden because they are growing in the general region. If they are thriving in Dubai, they may thrive at your house. Plant plenty of the seeds at your house, and note which ones do best. Then harvest those seeds and use them to plant more. Eventually you will develop a marigold which loves your soil and your yard. This is much easier than it sounds, but you will over time be richly rewarded.

    Also, rather than just buying plants at the nursery, take walking tours in various areas and see where plants are thriving that you like. Ask the owners if you can take a cutting for your garden. With a product called “Rootone” http://www.gardening123.com/ProductInfo/rootone/Benefits.asp you can introduce the plants in your garden. If the plants live in the area and look good, they will likely do well in your yard.

    Now that we have cheap long distance you could call the desert botanical garden http://desertbotanical.org/index.aspx?pageID=259 for help, also. More gardening tips that might be helpful to you can be found here: http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/t-tips/t-tips.htm. Here’s a link to a book that might be helpful: http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/pubs/dsrtgdn.htm Here is some info on the drip watering: http://www.geagolf.com/GEA%20Drip%20Irrigation%20in%20the%20Desert.html

    All this should give you some new ideas

  18. mahmood says:

    Are you kidding? You have given me a boat-load of good and very unselfish ideas. Thanks ever so much for this. I shall take your advice to heart and shall try out your suggestions…

    This actually justifies taking my sharp pen-knife with me all the time, it’ll be my Amex: never leave home without it!

    Thanks again.

  19. Nkb says:

    Looking forward to your vlog taking your cuttings!

  20. Mahmood

    Have you tried “Bulb Baskets” yet? They sure make planting and removing bulbs a heck of lot easier.

  21. mahmood says:

    have to look them up, don’t know anything about them… but the good news even without them I have the first two ireses flowering, one normal and the other is yellow and freakish looking! I’ll take pictures this afternoon if I can.

  22. http://michiganbulb.com/search.asp?ss=bulb+basket&x=8&y=12

    In a nut shell… You place the bulbs in the basket and place the basket in the ground. Makes it easy to move the bulbs for next year, thin them out etc… OR in your case some of your bulbs will need to go dormant as in have a period of cold. This way you just life them out of the ground and place in the freezer/frig and your done.

    If you want a few I can toss them in my suitcase for you.

  23. mahmood says:

    Interesting idea! I’ve removed some of the Amaryllis and placed them in paper bags to dry. They came out pretty easily actually, I guess due to the crumbly nature of the ground. (and I like digging in sand too!! :))

  24. Let me tell you Mahmood just how SWEET bulb baskets can be. When that patch of tulips you planted looks nice and healthy BUT they just don’t belong in that spot. Bingo.. now they are EASY to relocate.

    I love playing in the dirt as the next weekend warrior does but replanting BULBS is not on my top 10 list. BTW how much soil did you have brought in for your yard?

  25. mahmood says:

    I gutted the garden and removed the top 18 inches of “original” garden sand (together with a bunch of building material like bricks, planks of wood, iron rods, excess cement, etc) and replaced that. The final tally was around 180 tonnes of new garden sand.

    After that they must have mixed a couple of truckloads of peat, compost and potting soil as well as manure. I haven’t stopped preparing the soil, so every time I change a flower bed I dump a couple of potting soil and maybe 20 litres of peat and mix that in, water it for 3 or 4 days and put some NPK in there on the second day and keep watering. On the 5th day I start planting.

    That generally works well with most of what I decide to plant.

    Frances and I visited the Garden Show this morning and have a bunch of ideas for the garden; the most important of which is identifying more garden shops and sources of good quality seeds, which we will depend on rather than potted (and pot-bound) plants.

    I hear what you’re saying about the baskets, but I don’t have that many bulbs to worry about and I have decided to plant them in pots exclusively.

  26. I know what my mom has gone through in her garden in Bahrain and I don’t envy you one bit. Our soil in New England is near perfect for growing anything. Sans hoards of rocks that are in every shovel full. Still I also add lots of Peat Moss every time I make a new bed or replant one and loads of compost too. You just can’t beat compost for your plants Mahmood and if you haven’t tried it please do. I like the container idea for the bulbs and I think I will order in some larger stoneware pots and give it a try.

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