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Garden Accessories

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Relax! Garden accessories add value to any garden

I don’t think a garden is complete without some nice statues or other accessories.

In my garden, I placed quite a number of accessories in several places, but not enough to overwhelm it though, I think you have to have good balance in what you’re doing, otherwise it will rob the essence of a beautiful garden and you’ll end up with a backyard second hand store!

One of the best accessories that continues to give me a lot of pleasure is the bird bath. I’ve positioned this just outside my study and I have a full view of it through bay windows. It has become a mecca for all kind of birds who not only use it to Bathing Sparrowshave a drink, but also seem to really enjoy themselves bathing in it at all times of the day. Click the link above to see some of the pictures I’ve taken of some of the birds enjoying it.

One of the garden accessories that I would love to have but know that it will be useless here is a hummingbird feeder. I’ve seen them in action in Canada and I never tire of just sitting there watching hummingbirds feedings.

What’s your favorite accessory? What accessory would you really like to have in your garden? Please enter your comments below.

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Variegated Hibiscus

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I love hibiscus flowers. There are thousands of them I know, but they all obviously share some basics which distinguishes them from the others. I’ve had and still do have several bushes in my garden, unfortunately, they’re very susceptible to the dreaded mealy bug, especially in the summer, and as the summer is already here (and I’ve already had to uproot and young afflicted hollyhock) I do hope that they won’t suffer too much this season.

In any case, this is the first bloom in the two hibiscus bushes I planted in this location at the front garden. I’m very pleased with its dainty and organic appearance. Love the serration on its petals and that stile is quite magestic too, don’t you think?

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Mulch, my solution to the cat problem

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The Desert Roses are thriving again once I've put the mulch down which kept the cats awayThese lovely clump of plants only started to thrive – after coming very close to death – when I put that mulch on all around them. The reason they were dying was the bloody cats were insisting on using that patch as their latrine!

I’m glad to say that I’m having good success with the mulch in that they’re not digging it up, except for Gimpy who’s immune to any sort of thought and he continues to go to his usual haunts and if the mulch is not deep enough, he would scrape that off and do his business. I’m seriously now considering mixing some black pepper or curry powder with the mulch in those areas.

Do you have any mehods of preventing cats to limit their latrine areas or keep them away from specifica patches? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s talk. Enter your comments below please.

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The Cassia Fistula’s Naked!

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The Cassia Fistula is Naked

The Cassia Fistula‘s almost naked now, which means that it soon will sport chandaliers of yellow flower clumps to be followed by long and hard seed pods.

It sheds a couple of months later in Bahrain than it does in other parts of the world, its native south east asia mostly.

It looks like we’re going to be blessed with seeing its full glory this year. Some flower pods are already forming. Can’t wait to take some pictures.

However, its deciduous nature creates a lot of work for us as you can imagine 🙂

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The Maldivian Plumerias Have Taken

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plumeria-maldives - click for larger view

My wife and I spent a fantastic and relaxing short holiday in Velassaru, one of the Maldivian Heavenly atolls. The plants on that atolls were very similar to what we have here in Bahrain: plumerias, palms and other heat tolerant plants. I particularly fell in love with two plumerias, and the elephant ear plant.

I resolved to have them! And I knew it never hurts to ask. So I did, and got rewarded with two cuttings; one for the red-striped plumeria with it’s gorgeous red stripe underneath each petal (similar to the one on the bottom right) and another, as you see on the top left. The gardener there was generous enough to give me two young elephant ear plants from his nursery. I was a very happy camper indeed!

We packed the cuttings and plants well and brought them home with us. As I love plumerias and already have several of them in our garden, I initially didn’t have a good enough place for the new guests. I thought on it some more and then decided that the pool deck was an ideal place for them, especially as the area by the pump changing rooms was relatively bear, it being paved over and not having any shade in that area, they might well provide that focal point that was so far missing. Some digging was needed. So off I went to the construction equipment rental shop and got a small jackhammer and thank goodness I did, as the cement underneath those tiles was six inches deep. It took two guys most of the morning to complete the job. It was a hard slog, but in the end, the task was complete and we planted the two “sticks” in their places.

Nothing happened since they were planted in December 2011 and until late April 2012 there was no sign of life, other than the cuttings themselves continuing being green, which maintained the hope. Then at the end of April and all of a sudden, I noticed new growth! Finally, they had taken and are pushing through. As you can see from the pictures, both sport healthy leaves now and we’re all looking forward to welcome their first gorgeous flowers.

Expect some pictures, hopefully soon!

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Vandalism

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I am gutted.

You know I spent quite some time designing, building and planting my xeriscaped border outside my house as a contribution to my neighborhood, country and environment. Unfortunately, some vandals – most probably kids who go to the school opposite my house – continue to wreak havoc in it by willfully damaging the plants.

Here are just some of the heart-wrenching results of their labors:

I will survive! vandalized cactus plant

and these taken yesterday:

vandalized cactus plant

The question I have is why? Why do they have to do this? They throw rocks at the lovely plants and just walk away. What do they actually get out of it?  And what can I do to prevent them from doing this?

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The Revived Caper

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Caper flowerI bought this caper several years ago from one of the Bahrain International Garden Shows, I think it was the 2006 or thereabouts. I left it in a medium-sized pot and it did well for a while. But like with everything else, time caught up with it and I thought it had died and being lazy (with a copious measure of hope) left it there.

I confess that after a while I gave it no further mind but fully remember its majesty when it did flower in its younger years. I further confess that as the cats started using the planter by the front door as a latrine – abhorrent beings they are – I resolved to move the plant and plonk it in the position it occupies now in order to prevent those infernal felines from doing their business there. My success in that department was good, but imagine the amplification of that feeling once I saw that the dry twig actually sprouted some very healthy looking leaves!

Now, just this morning, I notice this lovely flower – a day or so old and past its prime to be sure – yet, it serves as an excellent indication of the health of this lovely plant, especially when taken with the second bud to grace it too.

I am rather happy that the Caper has not only survived, but out of necessity, also found what seems to be its perfect place in my garden.

I so look forward to it thriving for some time to come.

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Through the eyes of a lens

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It’s really strange that when you observe a garden, or any other space for that matter, and you are used to that particular view, you not only get to take it for granted but your mind disappears some detail and you never really appreciate it. However, I found that if you do frame it through the camera and take a picture, more often than not you would be pleasantly (or otherwise!) surprised. It’s almost as if the two-dimensional view – especially if done well – would make you see it for what it actually is, in all of it’s glory.

Consider this for instance. It’s a view I pass several times a day without giving it much thought. In fact, I didn’t think it as “lovely” as it obviously appears here:

The Southern Garden

Isn’t this a picture fit for a gardening magazine?

Looking at it now and noticing the beauty of the “tear drop” in the middle; the depth that the Ixora on the left leads to the lovely purple Datura flowers and then onto the bed of Calendulas and onward to the rose bushes below the French windows. Then we notice the gorgeous framing offered by the two plumerias, going through to the two Cassia Fistulas and then at the very back, at the wall, we see the passion fruit climber in the middle and the plentiful flowering of the Oleander is just.. well, beautiful!

And then just imagine this space a few weeks from now once the plumerias are fully clothed and the fistulas have shed theirs leaves and replaced them with new growth, and you will be once again pleasantly surprised.

All of this in the arid climate of Bahrain? Yes, indeed it is. As I’ve said in the previous article you can indeed grow just about anything in this lovely country, but for a short while until the scorching sun put an end to this particular enjoyment and forcibly transfer your attention to the most heat tolerant plants; namely the palms, plumerias and the cacti.

But let’s not dwell on that. Here. Enjoy this view as well, taken a minutes of the one above and is what is available opposite. The one on top I call the Southern Garden; while the one you see below, obviously, is the Front, or even Northern garden.

The Front Garden

I do love my garden!

Have a pleasant day.

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Microclimates

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Front Garden - South

One would be forgiven to think that in a garden as small as mine that distinct climates exist in its different parts. I know the pictures make it look big, but trust me on this, it’s less than 700 square meters in total area. The garden is divided in three parts; here, you see the Southern part of the garden and it has traditionally been the warmer part. This is due to the neighbour’s high perimeter wall and its sheltered nature too.

Here, the warm-climate loving plants thrive. The two plumerias you see here framing the path grew from almost mere sticks to be the giants they are today. And it is only six or so years since I planted the two Cassia Fistulas you see in the background. The ixoras particularly like this part of the garden, as do the passion fruit climber in the background. The rest, well, they’re annuals of all sorts, the one you see behind the ixora is the lovely purple variety of datura.

Forgive the length of the grass in this picture. It is done on purpose as I have recently sanded and re-seeded the whole lawn with bermuda grass seed and it’s coming along quite nicely. I’ve cut the grass once about ten days ago and don’t want to disturb the young shoots again for another few days. The lawn was quite tired after eight years and was about to give up, which required this drastic intervention. I’m glad that the bermuda grass is taking hold now and I hope that it will bring back the lawn to its full former glory.

How are you keeping your lawn pristine and lush in Bahrain? Do you have any particular tricks you employ to keep it good? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a lovely May Day holiday.

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The Xeriscaped Border is Complete!

Have a look at this beauty! We’ve just finished this new border this afternoon. I moved almost all the agaves and cactii from the cluster by the pool into this new brilliant arrangement, even if I say so myself 🙂

I’m looking forward for them to mature in place and hope all visitors to our neighborhood enjoy my xeriscaped garden border.

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