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Stoked! The cycad is alive :)

Stoked! The cycad is alive :)

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Gardening is not something I thought of for most of my life. I enjoyed seeing plants, but beyond taking pleasure in that, I was just like anyone else I suppose. Revel in the moment, and move on to other things.

This changed when I bought my first house. It welcomed hands-on involvement with its large garden space, and more importantly I think, it was mine. That changed the perspective considerably. Slowly, with time, I gained the gardening experience and driven by my curiosity, I delved into plant science because I wanted to discover how to care for them and make them thrive.

On selling that house, I hoped that the new owners would take care of the garden, and enjoy it as much as I had. I know from talking to the new owner from time to time, that this wish had come true, and that makes me very happy.

I bought a smaller house with a much smaller garden plot. Nevertheless, the pleasure of gardening persists even in the smallest of spaces. As long as the passion is present, then I knew that the pleasure of designing, creating, working and maintaining that space will propel me forward and give me a lot of rewards for my efforts. So once I had the design approximately set in my mind for the new plot with a couple of earmarked plants from the old garden, I set about creating that new haven.

Gardening is a gamble sometimes. You do your best and create as many conditions for success as possible, yet some plants will flourish while others will surprisingly die, regardless of the effort you put it. This is nature and I’ve learn to accept and respect it.

But gardening is also all about hope! That’s why we gardeners talk to our plants, give them names and chastise them sometimes to do better. My children! What can I say…

One of the plants I decided to bring with me was a well established and healthy cycad. The plant is about 20 years old if not older, so yanking it out of its established space in the old garden and plonking it in the new one was a big gamble that required an awful lot of hope. .

This is how it looked in its original location:


The Cycad in its original place in my old garden in Barbar, Bahrain

See how glorious and happy she was?

Well, after planting it in its new home, it wasn’t a happy cookie. It soon went into shock and became yellow, dry and sad even after a few months after re-planting. It required all the hope and positive energy I could muster to just leave it where it was… and will myself to be more patient. The number of times I got close to yanking it and throwing it out were numerous, but something held me back.. This is how it faired by March 3rd, 2019 in its new location. See how wilted it looked?

And believe me you won’t want to look at its pictures in May as it was almost completely yellow, and it had lost most of its fronds.

Preparing for the oppressive heat of the summer, I covered it with 50% shade and increased its irrigation a little bit. I also threw in a bit more compost around it (I know this is not normally done in the summer, but I really didn’t have anything to lose at that point). Clinging to hope makes you do stuff you don’t normally consider… that’s why hope is a very dangerous thing!

Well that hope was well founded! Or our prayers were entertained!

Yesterday morning I went to say hello to it on my way to work, and I was so thrilled to witness new growth when I peeked under its veil!

Look! Look!

Those little fluffy things in the middle are fronds in the making! I hope I’m not getting excited too soon (fat chance of that ever happening!!!) but this is the best sign I’ve had of it actually being alive.

I’m so grateful. This makes me so happy!

Hope, you see, is a fantastic thing!

Have a lovely weekend all. xx

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A beautiful home for sale

A beautiful home for sale

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We’ve spent 13 years in our current home and most of those have truly been the best in all our lives. We made 1813 a place of quiet and safe refuge for us. We love the coolness and tranquility of the spaces inside the house, and the various “rooms” we’ve created in the garden – which won an award at the Bahrain International Garden Show. A point of pride for me.

But it’s now time to move on and make space for another fortunate family to be happy in it.

So if you would like a beautiful, safe and tranquil place to enjoy with your family, please have a look at http://1813.mahmood.tv you might just be fortunate enough to move into it and enjoy what it offers for decades to come.

Give me a call on 33668811 and I’d be glad to give you a grand tour. But please, serious buyers only. Thank you.

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Spring in my garden

Spring in my garden

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I shot this film this morning before work. Just had a chance to edit it. Loving the cottage garden feel of this year’s planting. Enjoy this one minute of peace and beauty.

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Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla Gardening

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The Outside Garage Xeriscape Bed

I created this border yesterday. It features big rocks that were dug up by the sewageworks in our neighbourhood. As you can see, I repurposed them as well as the sand they dug up to create a couple of xeriscaped borders. These are positioned at the entrance (or the end) of our road and neighbourhood.

I’m really looking forward to establishing them as a main feature of our neighbourhood.

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Exotics

Exotics

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Every time I visit another country, I try to bring back with me some plants that took my fancy, and those that I think will have a chance to grow in my garden. I’m particularly taken with “showy” plants, plants with nice flowers and those that can attract nice wildlife.

hydrangea border
A gorgeous hydrangea border

One that I tried to grow in my garden several times over the last ten years was the hydrangea. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to, so far. I’ve tried many varieties that I brought back from Amsterdam, Victoria BC and of course the UK. None have survived the blistering Bahraini summers. Some didn’t even like our winters, while other variety of plants behaved more like annuals than the perennials they were supposed to be and survived only one season. At least we got to enjoy them for a while.

hydrangea paniculata white lady
Hydrangea paniculata “White Lady”

Not to buck my own tradition, I determined to try once more and brought back four plants from Scotland which I think have better luck, I hope. Through research I found out that the Hydrangea paniculata might be more heat tolerant if planted in dappled shade. I have a few spots in my garden which can host both the “White Lady” and the “Magical Fire” I have.

Other plants I brought back have a better chance to grow here and I have been successful with them before. Those are the lovely Buddlejas which are the butterflies favourites. They go crazy over them. I have two varieties chosen by my wife: Buddleja dav. “Black Knight” and Buddleja “Lochninch”.

Hydrangeas and Buddlejas
2 Hydrangeas on the left and 2 Buddlejas on the right

In order to transport them and keep within Bahraini law; we removed all soil from their roots by washing them just before we travelled, and immediately potted them on arrival. To ease their transition, we kept them inside in front of a French window. The air conditioning and the light should keep them healthy.

As expected, all of them went into shock and I thought we had lost the White Lady. Its leaves and flower went completely dry. I was ready to prune hard and bide my time. I’ve done that before and was successful in encouraging growth. My wife thought better of that idea and convinced me to leave them alone and just continue to water them. True enough, four weeks after they’ve been potted, even the one I thought to be dead sprouted very healthy growth. I’m so happy with this development.

I’m not very happy with the known Buddlejas spider mites though. I’ve noticed just a couple of days ago that one of the Buddlejas was infested with them. I researched on ways to combat them and found a good reference that suggested readily available ingredients to apply to the plants. That I have done this morning and hope that it will be effective. Time will tell.

I intend to slowly wean them off the air conditioning in preparation to them being planted in the garden. My target for the planting would be December, so I’ll start putting them in the balcony for a few hours a day in late October, not to shock them too much.

Here’s to them making our garden their home!

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Some of the bulbs are showing already!
376 bulbs and some hollyhocks planted

376 bulbs and some hollyhocks planted

To put what I’ve done this morning in the garden in a sentence, it would have to to: “Back breaking, but exhilarating work!”

The bulbs planted in Mahmood's Garden on 24 Oct '14
Say hello to some of my bulbs!

My wife brought just about a whole suitcase-full of bulbs with her from her recent visit to Scotland. This morning I’ve planted 376 of those bulbs around various borders in the garden and I can’t wait for them to flower. The varieties promise that it will be a tiered flowering, some in winter, others in spring and some will probably flower next summer. So there will be some things to look forward to in the garden over the next few months. I do hope that at least some will come through though!

I also took the opportunity to plant some hollyhock seeds directly into the ground. Thanks a lot to Nancy Johnson who sent me some of her “black hollyhock” seeds all the way from Monterey in California. Our climate is approximately similar so they should take quite readily.

Well, I’m not done yet, obviously. I’ve got a bunch of hyacinth bulbs to plant and I’ve got to plan for the various annuals I’m bringing in. But before that, I’m going to fertilise the garden… but that’s a job for next weekend.

How are your gardens doing so far guys? I’d love to know. Please enter a comment to let me know.

Happy gardening!

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Bulbs!
Full timelapse video of the patio construction
Meet the Seedlings

Meet the Seedlings

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed that some shoots were already starting in the nursery just two days after the seeds were sown! I was so happy about that progress. It’s now just five days since I started the nursery and now we’ve got quite a few trays exhibiting signs of life.

First to make an appearance were the Amaranthus seedlings, followed by the Holyhocks, Marigolds and even the Weeping Love ornamental grass and some calendulas too. This morning, I saw signs of a couple of Alyssum shoots, I’m particularly interested in these coming through as I’ve got three trays full of their seeds. The Alyssum – I hope – will be the main feature of every border as they will reside right at the front and provide the frame for that border. As you might have noticed from my inventory, I’ve got two kinds; the white Snow Cloth and the yellow Gold Dust.

Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment. I hope that your seeds are doing well too. Let us know how you’re getting along by entering a comment.

Bon chance!

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