Saturday, June 13, 2009

Domestic Goddess in the Garden

When I was a child, one of my favourite nursery rhymes was "Mary, Mary". For those unfamiliar with it, it goes something like this....

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row

I've always wanted a wonderful garden of my own. I grew up on nearly half an acre of land, which was kept perfectly mowed and beautifully planted by my father.

I have some really excellent memories of playing in the garden while my dad sat patiently weeding the lawn with a screwdriver, while his "wireless" (fogey-speak for radio) rang out with the sound of Charles Fortune giving ball-by-ball cricket commentary. Lovely.

I planned to continue this tradition of stunning gardens when I married. But it was not to be. I have a black thumb you see. My history with plants is long and miserable.

I have about as much luck with plants as I do with boiled eggs. Particularly when it comes to potplants.

A friend once gave me a 27 year old bonzai tree as a gift. I killed it within three weeks. The only thing I think I didn't kill was one of those "chicken & hen" plants, but I don't think they can be killed. They just don't know how to die.

In our first home, we had what passed for a garden. It was a stretch of lawn 19 metres by 2 metres filled with grass, weeds, sand and harvester ants, which means the lawn was eventually mostly sand.

The only thing that grew well was the bouganvillea which, like the "chicken & hen" potplants, appear to be unkillable. And then we moved to the desert.

Despite it being a desert, Abu Dhabi island is very green. Tons of lovely plants and trees. Beautiful public plants and gardens. Even a flower clock. All lovingly (and expensively) maintained by the municipality who fight a never-ending battle with the encroaching sand.

In my garden, the sand has mostly been winning. Not that I have much of a garden. It a small L-shaped bed, two window boxes and some concrete. And its difficult to water. Because I have no outside tap, and if I want to water the garden, I have to run a hosepipe from the kitchen, through the hall, and out the front door.

Fortunately the window boxes are self-watered. By the endless drip of the condensation pipe from the airconditioning units. They are flourishing. So mostly I don't really worry, and the plants that have survived are doing very well.

But I longed for the green grass of home. My children complained that playing on the concrete that passed for our garden was hard and "no fun." So we decided to lay some grass.

"How?" I hear you exclaim loudly. "You don't have soil - you have concrete!" Ah, but concrete is no match for the Domestic Goddess and the other wanna-be gardeners in Abu Dhabi. There is a solution. A very popular one in fact. Its called plastic grass.

You don't get it from the hardware store. You don't get it at the plant shop. You buy it from your local carpet supplier. Its not astroturf, its not carpeting. It is plastic grass. And its found just about in every small garden. And you can choose the length of grass, the depth of greenness, the softness and the lushness.

Pick what you want and away you go! Roll out your grass, and there you have it. And its remarkably easy to maintain. No mowing, watering or fertilising. Just the occasional once-over with the vaccuum cleaner.

What could be better for a Domestic Goddess?

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