UP THE GARDEN PATH

 UP THE GARDEN PATH

Louise Tomlin takes a look at garden related topics.This time she’s been checking out a ‘miraculous’ garden in Dubai…

I’ve been fortunate to visit Asia and the United Arab Emirates again over this last winter. Although in light of the recent scares over the spread of the Coronavirus, some may say are you sure you mean fortunate? I saw a report on Sky News the day before we came back whilst staying in Dubai in January that mentioned a new virus that had been identified in China, little did we know at the time what we all had in store. However, we got back before travel bans were implemented. So yes, that was fortunate!

My friend and guide to Dubai Lucy, who has lived there for 10 years knows I am a ‘plantophile’ and decided that we were due a green fix, after taking us around the numerous glamorous and glitzy tourist traps the breathtakingly beautiful UAE, desert State has to offer.Today we were going to visit the Miracle Garden.This hadn’t popped up on our agenda on previous visits, so I was intrigued. It sounded exciting, the combination of words miracle and garden conjured up visions of something like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon… I’m sure this was going to be spectacular, as they don’t do anything by halves in Dubai.

We arrived amongst throngs of other eager visitors. I was interested to note that there seemed more than the average amount of families with young children, which struck me as unusual because you normally don’t see that many tots at flower and plant places.

What followed was a very unusual experience indeed. So much for a green fix, I think I got a petunia and busy-lizzie over load Dubai-style. It was a full-on assault of the senses of sight and smell. Flowers galore in formal planting everywhere you looked, high and low. I was just getting over the surprise of seeing so much intense flower power and beginning to take in the decorative walkways, with heart shaped archways that when I glimpsed what seemed to be the nose of an enormous Airbus A380 plane made of flowers complete with the Emirates Airlines logo, I could have fallen over. Surprise after surprise followed as I navigated the 72,000 square metres of gardens that was made of 250 million plants. It boasts many huge topiary structures, the Airbus being listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest flower structure in the world.

And Hello – Meet Mickey – the 18m (59ft) high Mickey Mouse is the tallest topiary supported structure in the world and weighs a staggering 35 tons. The giant mouse wasn’t alone, he had brought many of his cartoon friends that kept popping up unexpectedly around bends: Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and the whole Donald Duck family. All super-sized topiary statues clad in flowers. Well at least that explains why so many children were visiting. This was Kew Gardens meets Disneyland.

Never fear, if you are not a fan of Disney, which I have to admit has never been a thing for me, there are other gigantic features: towering cats, penguins, horse’s heads that emerge from the ground from the neck up, a huge random disembodied head of a woman and even more random a bathroom sink with mixer tap and more, too much to list here.

Once I had got over the surprise I began to realise that although this really wasn’t my cup of tea (yes by the way, there was a huge cup and saucer there too) the garden was an amazing accomplishment for the designers and landscaping teams who had built it. A vast amount of technical know-how has gone into building an attraction on this scale, creating the features that combine living hedging and plants, keeping them alive, watered and pruned in the dessert heat.

It uses over 757,000 litres of ‘grey’ wastewater from the municipality daily, which is treated, piped directly there and drip fed through irrigation systems at night. It is open for visits from October to April, at other times the 40 degree heat isn’t great for long walks outside. The cost is estimated at 40 million AED, that’s a snip at approximately £8.5 million. – Try to keep smiling everyone and do your best to carry on.

 

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