Almost monochrome

8 Aug, '08
Almost monochrome

Almost monochrome, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Hardly any colour in the garden at the moment, but the new season is almost upon us and I have some new plans for my garden this year.

It’s gonna be hard and back breaking work but it should be worth it in the end…

Hey, it’s 888! Have a wonderful Friday my friends!

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  1. christine says:

    Hi Mahmood… I literally can NOT thank you enough for your AWESOME websites! I’ve just spent 2 hours totally flabbergasted that such a well-written, well-organized site exists – and that so many people participate with such interesting and insightful responses!!!

    I’m sorry if that’s in any way offensive, b/c I don’t mean to sound so shocked… but as your news article discusses, Radio Bahrain and Bahrain TV are the level of public information dissemination I’ve become accustomed to in this country… I have just sent your website around to all my friends! So, thank you for all that you’re doing here on your different blogs.

    Now, if I may, I have a gardening question… I have employed a garden design company to design my house’s garden (we’re in Mahooz)… and their design calls for 7 tall trees (like 4 meters tall at full height) to be planted along the back wall of my backyard… Literally only a few centimeters from the wall.

    The idea is to utilize a very small patch of garden in between the boundary wall and the pool……..

    But I’m terrified of root problems!

    I know not to use those “Saudi Trees”… But none of the nurseries I have gone to can tell me anything specific. Some have told me to consider a “Golden Ficus”… but I just don’t have any ideas. Could you give me an idea I could look in to? I believe all the nurseries are going to be getting new trees after the Month of Ramadan…. so I want to know what kind of tree I should be looking for.

    Thanks so much! Christine

  2. Mahmood says:

    Thank you Christine, always nice to make new friends!

    The very first thing I did when we bought our house was get rid of those Conocarpus trees (the ones I suspect you refer to when you say “Saudi trees” and the locals either call them American or Israeli trees!) whose roots do seek water sources even if under foundations and they say that it can cause some damage. However, my research suggests that even with Conocarpus, if you do provide water at the tree, the roots will have no reason to go and seek it out elsewhere and will therefore be localised. Even so, I would urge caution there and would plant them away from the main property. In my case, I’ve got 10 lining the road outside of our house and I have laid out drip lines for all of them, so they are well contented, judging by their growth!

    I didn’t notice any problems with ficus shrubs, I’ve got plenty of golden ficus dotted around the garden; the bulbuls especially love them and at any moment in time I can find bulbul nests in their depths! The bulbuls in turn treat me well by eating the bugs around the garden, especially the annoying chafer grub which kills quite a few patches of my lawn.

    I’ve got a big ficus right in a corner in a planter adjacent to the house. That one has grown to be at least 3 meters tall and I’m sure if I didn’t trim it from time to time it would have reached the roof by now! Again, examining the surface of the house adjacent to it I don’t see any lifted tiles or have any other indications of malice on its part.

    I would personally suggest for inside the property wall, the best tree to use here are the date palms. If you have a good garden centre they should be able to provide you with premium palms at 4 meters or more for around BD250 – 350 each. I know it sounds expensive, but it’s an investment in beauty that will live with you for the rest of your life, if taken care of occasionally. Because the roots of the palms are quite shallow and compact, I haven’t heard of anyone complaining that it might affect foundations or for them to travel to seek water. Again, if you put a drip line around them, they should be more than happy to just stay put and look pretty. When selecting the palms though, be thorough and get them from a reputable source.

    Make sure that they don’t have the dreaded red weevil that will kill them in no time and spread to other palms in the area. Bahrain has been pretty good in controlling this disease when it banned the import of palms from infected areas in Saudi and others. So look for the general health of the tree. By the way, if you want to see some of the most beautiful palms which have just been planted go look at the palms in the driveway of the Ritz Carlton. They have been manicured to perfection! I envy them and wish my palms looked as gorgeous!

    Other tress that you might want to consider – though they do require space – is the beautiful Poinciana Regia. That grows in no time, requires 5 – 10 years to mature when it will produce the most beautiful canopy of bright orange and red flowers in May (hence the name flame tree or May flower tree). Its roots do spread awing to the canopy (assume the root ball in the ground to spread about the same breadth as the branches of the tree itself) and I have had a report from a friend – who is not a gardener but swears it’s true – that he had to pull out his because its roots cracked the wall of his basement. As I don’t have a basement, I’m not worried.

    Another tree that I love – but many others don’t – is the Cassia Fistula. That’s the “golden shower tree” and it flowers only in the winter in Bahrain when it drops almost all its leaves and the tree gets covered with beautiful showers of yellow – like chandeliers – flowers for a brief period, followed by long and thick seedpods. It grows very quickly too with its major growth in the summer and it goes dormant in the winter. I have a plan to replace the Conocarpus trees with Cassias but haven’t had the time to assess this plan well yet.

    Another tree which you might like is another Cassia, this one is the Cassia Suratensis (scrambled egg tree) which is a delicate shrub more than it is a tree I think; birds and bees love it, when it flowers (it gets covered in the most beautiful deep yellow flowers all over – hence the name) you will see many many bumble bees buzzing all around it. I’m sure they get high by the nectar it produces as they never bother me when I go near them to take pictures, they just buzz from one flower to the next oblivious to anything around them!

    I am sure there are many more you could select from. I would highly recommend Elizabeth Shaheen’s two books which are packed with beautiful pictures and good information about plants she has personally experienced growing in Bahrain’s climate. I am sure you could find them in Books Plus in the Seef Mall.

    Have fun gardening and remember that the best gardens are those which evolve over the years. I can guarantee you that the layout you are commissioning now will be just the starting point in your journey, enjoy it and keep this fact foremost in your mind. The best advice I can give you from my own experience is really examine the irrigation system they give you! If they suggest just a single timer for the drip lines throughout your garden, get another company immediately, or at least tell them to zone your garden properly! If they tell you that the sprinklers only need to zones, tell them the same.

    My garden naturally splits into 6 zones – even though it is small – and I wish I had the presence of mind to insist on a better irrigation arrangement. But, understanding the nature of gardening in that the only permanent thing in it is change, I have managed to redo almost all the irrigation points to a level I am approximately happy with now.

    Until I dig the next bed that is!

    Happy gardening 😉

  3. christine says:

    WOW! Thanks a TON!!! What a packed response! I’m printing this off and I’m going to go to the garden center now… Thanks! I do need to look into the irrigation system, b/c – as you mentioned – the company i was going to hire said I only needed 2 zones – front garden & back garden…… so I guess I’ll work on that a bit more. Thanks sooooo much!!!

    Christine!

  4. Mahmood says:

    Glad to help Christine!

    Ask if you need any more information; though I can’t guarantee that I would know the answer, I’ll try to guide you from my own short experience in this lovely passion!

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