Friday, May 23, 2014

Gardening in Doha... Diagnosis-Obsessive Compulsive Gardening Disorder

While my friends in London take out their lawn mowers,
I clean out the pots that held pretty petunias.
While they watch the drama of their flower beds unfold
And gear up for the Chelsea Flower show,
I dust off the baskets which were burdened with blossoms
just a few weeks ago.

Yes, 'tis that time of the year in Doha
when old must give way to the new
The concerto of colours that was played out in my yard
must now bow out to the curtain call
of the searing, sweltering heat of the desert.

I thank  phone with the camera button
for letting me capture these flippant beauties in their prime
for I may never have the time to "lie on my couch
In vacant or in pensive mood"
like dear old William Wordsworth
but with your help
I can reminisce vividly when
"They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;"
or scroll down my computer screen
"And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
Or in my case-
Anything that grew in my yard
in this thirsty land.      

My love affair with my yard
became public
on Valentine's day
but my family are
now thinking of sending me to rehab
while I keep saying: 'No! No! No!
(cheesy, I know.)
for in their eyes
I suffer not from 'love'
but from OCGD-
Obsessive Compulsive Gardening Disorder.

I will continue to deny
and keep sharing my
photo albums with you
like the proud parent
who doesn't understand why
showing their baby's 56 photos
of almost identical poses
should not THRILL the audience.

In this post today
I share with you
what happened
in the Spring of 2014
in a little yard
that became my addiction...

This bath tub was discarded by a neighbour and now lives happily in my garden. It has yielded peas, potato vines, lemon grass, geraniums and lots of nasturtiums over the years. It is also home to a blooming oleander shrub.

The tyre project came to life after the husband changed his car tyres and brought the old ones home. I used one to plant my first pond in Doha and a couple others on the wall.

This pale petunia looked ethereal against the beautiful March sky.

"What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'."
(Colour by Chritina Rossetti)

Almost anything that I can fill with soil comes out- here's my vegetable basket from the kitchen holding a mint pot.


Succulents are such kind plants- demanding little and giving so much. Can you see the flecks of magenta on the edges of the orange petals?

Baskets full of thyme. The fragrance of thyme...heaven!

And the long shot...

The ubiquitous bougainvillea and petunias and pansies:-

I was super thrilled to find this trailing geranium in a nursery here. You can't imagine what an adventure it is to find plants here. It's not like stepping into a garden centre in London or visiting a nursery in Dehradun where you know you are sure to find certain plants. Here, the intermittent supply chain creates a sense of excitement every time you visit a nursery because you never know what you might spot.

I bought this African bowl (made from a gourd)at a yard sale for a $1. Bargain! Yes, yard sales are great for finding pots in Doha as they can be an expensive purchase here.

Desert Rose...

And another long shot...

This year I used these bamboo mats to support this vine- the guy at the nursery said it's 'morning glory'. I don't know for sure as the morning glory I know of has different blooms and leaves. This could be an Ipomea vine. Do you know what this is called? I like the marriage of these leaves and the bamboo mat.

As the summer temperatures soar, I look forward to these buds to bloom. The lemon grass and jasmine perfume the sultry summer days. Gardenias (in partial shade) and Ixoras (in full sun) continue to cheer me up while I sweat buckets and drag my exhausted self indoors after only a few hours of 'gardening'. 

I have a big garden clear out planned for tomorrow...hope to keep the green going for as long as it is possible before the summer scorches everything into dust except for the strong and  the resilient.


  1. Hey Arti,
    Your love for gardening and amazing writing style is so evident in this post.You were 100 percent right love it and am going to read it again.your obsession is pleasure for couch loving beings like me.
    Thanks for this Saturday morning treat.

  2. You are welcome 'unknown':) How delicious is this? Only I know who you are!!!

  3. Ooh! So enjoyed reading this...Ixoras do well out in the sun? Now I have to come and see yr garden and take a tip or two to help with my window sill plants!

    1. Hey Ketaki. You are welcome any time. And thanks for stopping by:)

  4. I remember seeing your garden and loving it, when I had visited you quite some time back. It only seems to be getting better and better! I must add that sustaining this in Doha is nothing short of a miracle - good work. Love the pics and the write up...keep it flowing :)

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Mini. Yes, it is hard work, but no gain...and I'm a Jain:) Plan another visit in the cooler months.

  5. Lovely Garden Arti! Your creativity is amazing .. Its always a treat to my eyes to watch home gardens, especially from someone who share the same passion and love for gardening:)

    1. Thank you Prasanna. Welcome to my neck of the woods and I am so glad you enjoyed my garden:)

  6. I feel so guilty not reading this post in entirety before. I love it...and just want to fly down to enjoy your garden. it totally reminded me of our childhood when we used to spend hours sitting in the trees, taking an afternoon nap under our fruit trees and having lunch in our garden! Thoroughly enjoyed the post! Keep them coming.

    1. Thank you Seema. Yes, I feel that we enjoyed an enchanted childhood in Papaji's garden. I should pen down those memories some day. I would love for you to fly to Doha and for us to have chai outdoors when the weather cools down:)

  7. Hi Arti, what a lovely post. I love your passion for gardening and yes, I can understand how the heat can be a deterrent . At my end here , it is 46 degrees C and I'm struggling to keep my plants alive and green . Just waiting for the monsoons to arrive just to see my green babies smile. I love your ideas on recycling....the tub, the tyres and also the garden basket and oh , that bottle gourd planter just took my breath away. Happy gardening :)

    1. Thank you Reshma:) Enjoy the 'saundhi khushboo' of the first droplets of rain hitting the parched earth. I miss that so much!

  8. Wow...loved your gardening and took few tips too..:)

    1. Thank you Anonymous:) I am glad you enjoyed it. All the best with your gardening endevours. xx

  9. Arti, you are an artist with flowers & colours!!! OMG, i would sleep in that garden. So beautiful! i wish i had half a green thumb. I tell myself that I never became a good gardner, because we only have 3 months of summer (on a good year!). I am far better at snow sculpting. lol. I am just catching up with your posts now and they are exquisite. You are not only wonderfully creative with words, but also with SPACE and color and nature. Beautiful. xx

    1. Thank you for a TRUCK load of sweet compliments Pauline:) your words made my day. Oh! I would LOVE to be your host...and this is not just an empty offer. Whenever you can, you are so welcome to come visit me and my garden and the gardening season in Doha coincides with the Canadian winter- so you can escape the snow for a bit:) Next winter- make plans. xx

  10. Hi Arti,
    First time on your blog. I have read only a few posts but I was totally hooked.
    Especially the gardening posts. I live in Texas and I am always complaining
    about the heat. And how difficult it is here to do any yard work. Although the
    summer only lasts June, July and August and may drag on a little in September,
    the rest of the year is fine. May be your posts will inspire me to start a kitchen garden
    or plant a few flowering plants.
    By the way did you also have an id Arty_ Zen? I was trying to find her blog/flickr account
    as she used to post really amazing photos which were truly inspirational.

    1. Thank you 'Anonymous' for visiting. Sadly, I am not the 'Arty_Zen' you were trying to locate, but I'm glad you found me:) I'll try to look for her, too...
      Gardening in the Middle East is a challenge. We, too, have extremely hot months from July to September. But that's why gardens make such good teachers of life. It's all cyclical- what's born must perish.
      Have a lovely day.

  11. So lovely to see a fellow Doha gardener having so much success :) My three balcony gardens pale in comparison! Marie :D

    1. HI Marie. It's lovely to see you here. I've been at it for six years now and only just getting the hang of it. The best cure is to source your plants from government nurseries- they survive and even if they don't, you can replace them without feeling the pinch. You are welcome to come over when the heat dies down a bit. xx


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