Last weekend my parents were with us, and as part of our entertainment schedule, I took them to Dubai’s Miracle Garden – a 72,000-square-metre riot of colour, growing on what was previously parched desert.
Sprouting just minutes from where we live, the Miracle Garden opened back in February, with 45 million flowers and topiary-style displays fashioned into hearts, pyramids, maypoles, igloos, birds and stars. It occurred to me when we first visited in March that the garden was really quite barmy – rather like walking round a giant hanging basket, or a set from Alice in Wonderland.
On our first visit, we found out what a giant breast implant made of petunias would look like; strolled under pergolas decorated with colourful garlands; and marvelled at the number of things they’d thought to do with the same flower.
But we’d had an enjoyable visit, so back we went last week, to see what they’d unveiled for the new season.
Well, what can I say? There’s a floral clock, an edible garden, displays made from Hannah Montana umbrellas, giant peacocks, vertical cars buried in flower beds (curiouser and curiouser) and houses covered in blooms.
A couple of different varieties of flower have even been added to the kaleidoscope of colour, as well as refreshment outlets serving ice cream, coffee, juices and the like.
Having paid the entry fee (Dhs 20 for everyone over the age of three), we stepped inside and realised immediately we’d chosen a busy day – the number of people, and cameras, meant the garden was quite literally crawling with life. But not only that, you quickly become aware that you’re being followed.
Your suspicions are confirmed when you step too close to the flowers, and the whistle-blowing starts. Woe-betide if you’ve come with a youngster who stops to smell the flowers. There’s a small army of over-enthusiastic, menacing guards, prowling round the garden, whistles at the ready, waiting to pounce on anyone who thinks this is just a park.
It’s not a park, they want us to know. It’s a work of art and while you’re free to enjoy the prettiness – and madness – of it all, you must.not.touch.
Looking around, I see a pregnant lady sitting on the grass, resting her weary feet, only to have a whistle blown at her by a guard clearly corrupted by all that power. Less than a minute later, I see another member of the visitor resistance jump out from behind the petunias to scare off a group of people looking too closely at the flowers.
A children’s play area and butterfly garden are promised, but we didn’t actually find them and ended up distracting our kids from the flowers by showing them the model elephants and giraffes over the fence, at the Dubai Properties office. The ice cream helped too.
If you go (joining the million people expected to visit this season), I have a few words of advice: pick a quiet day when the photo-taking petunia paparazzi aren’t out in force, and, above all, stick to the rules.
More information at: Miracle Garden Dubai
Our first visit: Dubai Miracle Garden