Folks in Abu Dhabi are chomping at the bit waiting for the temperatures to drop below 40°c. It is over the coming weeks that the temperatures will start the steady decline to a tolerable 35°, next stop an enjoyable 30° and then the glorious 25° plateau which will be the temperature all winter long, dipping to 17° or 18° on the very coldest of winter nights. Meanwhile the population of Ireland are facing into the first weekend in October and clutching the sides of their seats with dread of the winter weather and the knock-on effect on their outdoor activities and their gardens. The only consolation for many in Ireland is that the lawnmower operator will be taking a well deserved break after a long season of mowing, trimming, preening and disposing the lush green grass that grows like wildfire all summer long.
Over next week or the week after will see an onslaught of expats take to the dirtracks, highways and beautifully landscaped compounds of Abu Dhabi, running, walking, cycling, roller blading, etc. The preparation for the cooling down is well under way as it seems everyone is keen to get their garden in shape and create the perfect outdoor space, others invest in a state of the art outdoor grill, intent on barbequing the winter months away. I would at this stage point that while the weather in Abu Dhabi, is sunny all the time, the intense heat and searing rays cause irreparable damage. Trampolines turn brittle and snap, garden furniture gets faded and any smidgen of grass that was evident last April is now a scorched weed. So begins the mammoth task of rejuvenating the green of last year. Those with cash to splash hire a gardening contractor, explaining in detail to the Bangladeshi landscaper, who incidentally didn’t spent four years in college studying horticulture to get where he is today, how they would like their garden designed. Myself, I opt for a 5kg box of “Big Green Grass” from Carrefour and a hose but despite my unwavering determination my efforts are without success to date. I will suffice to say that when I had dewy thick blades at home, I dreamed of sunny far flung destinations.
My failure to resuscitate the lawn was highlighted when earlier this week I enjoyed a juice (of the grape variety) with a fellow Irish gal, in her heavenly back garden. Her grass was perfect, green as… well, green as grass, framed with peach colour pea gravel and peppered here and there with flowering shrubs which seemed to overhang as just the right angles. The lawn was perfected edged in line with patio area, no worn patches and no scorched areas; I couldn’t possibly invite her back without getting my back garden in order. Not wanting to appear too astonished, I casually admired the garden and said I was working on my own. Her garden clearly reflected her commitment and effort; she had it all. I shuddered to think of the message mine was sending out.
My heels were barely out the door when I dialed the number of the Bangladeshi contractor, come quickly I said, it’s urgent. Three days later, he arrived at the door. Sitting him down on the faded plastic outdoor chair, I explained my situation about the image I wished to project and the type of outdoor space I yearned sfor. He looked blankly back and replied, “No understand ma’am, please show”. This was how I ended up, sitting in the gardener’s truck and peering into my neighbour’s back garden. I explained that I wanted it just like hers, even down to the large blue pots.
“This ma’am can be by tomorrow morning”, not being a biologist by any stretch of the imagination, I wondered how it was possible, “All this ma’am, artificial, everything fake” “Grass is synthetic, flowers plastic”. Appalled, that what I thought was real, was really phoney. It made me question the whole friendship, what else was fake? Desperately hoping for a reprieve, I asked meekly, “the stones, they must be real?”, Alas, Sinbad shook his head, “sorry ma’am, also fake, resin product”. There it was, the garden I hankered after was a real mirage and not possible in Abu Dhabi. Wishing that some of Ireland could be here, just proves the rule, the grass is always greener on the other side.