I had all kinds of ideas for my new garden – new climate, new challenges. Yes, I had been told that the climate was too hot for orange trees, but I want to give it a try. Yes, my gardening friends haven’t had much luck with lavendar, but maybe I will have better luck. I toted huge pots and bags of fertilizer, clipped bougainvillia and started more plants, wanting that half/half color, rising early to work in the cool of the day. Rosemary! Basil! Lemon trees! As soon as the weather began to cool, I planted my seeds to see what would sprout, what I could transplant, what would thrive. I’m willing to risk a little failure, but I was hoping for some spectacular results.
Inside once the sun had risen, having a glass of water, my front doorbell rang. Who could it be at this hour of the morning? I checked the security peephole, and it was the compound’s chief gardener. With him was the man assigned to take care of our house. He really didn’t know a lot about gardening.
“Madam,” the chief gardener started, with a wave of his hand indicating all the new potted flowers on my entry stairs, “this is MY job.”
I stood there, looking stupid.
“Madam, your job is to tell us what you want. You don’t want to take our work from us.”
I was stunned. People who garden, all over the world, share a sheer love of getting our hands dirty and watching gardens grow and thrive, we love the patterns, we love the floozies who get all the attention, we love the characters who give depth and texture, and we create the backgrounds, the stage, on which they dance.
Slowly, slowly, we worked out an arrangement. I would bring in pots and plants, the gardener would actually pot them – but I would show him exactly how I wanted it done. From time to time, I would pot one up myself, late at night when no gardeners were around, and he would pretend not to notice. I would do the starts from seeds, he would tend them. On a hot afternoon, he would occasionally drop by and take a rest in the garden, and I would pretend not to notice.
I didn’t achieve spectacular. I had some failures – lavendar and orange trees. I sometimes wonder whether we form the garden, or the garden forms us? My results were not what I had envisioned, but it had its’ own beauty.
Working together, the gardener and I created a lush paradise, a backyard retreat where my husband and I would sit in privacy and enjoy the bougainvillia, and the lemon trees, the pots of rosemary and basil and jasmine, making the garden aromatic as well as beautiful. The Qateri cat would enjoy the marvellous smells, and track the occasional bird who dropped by.
With the cooling temperatures in Kuwait, my hands are just itching to get dirty.
P.S. Those are illustrations, not my real garden.