Circles wins the garden contest!

My 24-year-old self thought that entering neighbourhood garden contests was the preserve of bored, frustrated, curtain-twitching housewives with competitive tendencies.

It never crossed my mind that, 15 years later – in the desert of all places – I’d pick up a leaflet advertising a community garden competition that had been pushed under the door and put it in a safe place. That, a week later, I’d spend 20 minutes looking for the by-now-lost leaflet, and then, late one night, email a photo of our garden, taken when it was in bloom, to the organisers.

I didn’t even tell DH. I might have told my mum, who has such green fingers she could probably grow roses on the moon, and I mentioned it to Catherine the Great, who laughed. But I didn’t think anymore of it.

I blogged about our garden before. Previously just a giant sandpit, it now has real grass, brightly coloured bougainvillea and a selection of exceedingly hardy, heat-resistant desert plants. Like most families in Dubai, we have gardeners who come by twice a week, but compared to the lush oases that more horticulturally minded neighbours have created, our patch of desert is more Jungle Book than Kew Gardens. If I’m honest, I really don’t know one end of the garden shears from the other.

Inspired, I’ll be out there with the shears to do some pruning as soon as it’s cool enough
So I forgot all about it, until the email arrived to say we’d won. I’ve no idea how, but we’d won! My fate as a reluctant housewife with a garden to manicure was sealed.

And they wanted to come round with a prize!

Twenty minutes before their visit, I was rueing the fact I hadn’t high tailed it to the plant souk to do some repair work. I took the picture shortly after my mum had worked her magic on a visit. Since then, the plants in the photo had either grown to Jack-And-The-Beanstalk proportions, or died in the scorching sun.

At 4pm on the dot, three people arrived from Dubai Properties, one of them a photographer with a long-lens camera, the other two from marketing. Oh no, I cringed, they want photos for their brochure and they’re going to be horribly disappointed!

I didn’t let DH leave. I accepted the prize (a solar-powered lamp) apologetically and we all walked around the garden while the photographer took hundreds of pictures, and I made excuses for the fact that a) it didn’t look nearly as clipped and alive as in the photo (but, look, the grass is still green!) and b) I didn’t know the names of any of the plants.

I have to admit, I did rather enjoy feeling like we were on a shoot for House & Garden magazine, but when their marketing brochure is printed, I won’t be holding my breath.

I can’t show you the photo I entered, unfortunately, as it gives away where we live, but I can leave you with a feast for sore eyes – before and after shots of my mum’s English garden in Surrey. As you can see, I’ve got a lot to live up to!

What my mum and dad’s English garden looks like now
And how it looked before my Mum got her green fingers on it

4 thoughts on “Circles wins the garden contest!

  1. Cherry Sulivan says:

    Marianne, just enjoy the accolades. Remember, gardens are like people: they’re expected to change. The people would have thought it too perfect if the garden looked exactly as your photo! Oh, and I love your mum’s garden in Surrey. I just watched “The Holiday” a few nights ago starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, etc. Kate and Cameron trade houses for 2 weeks during the x’mas holidays. Kate’s cottage is in Surrey.

Comments are closed.