It’s always good to read what other Dubai bloggers are up to. For one, it helps me appreciate I am not the only one out there going slowly la-la, increasingly reliant on shoe shopping and sauv blanc to cure the ails of everyday expat living/parenting. Secondly, it gives me all kinds of ideas of things to do and places to go, that I didn’t even know existed. And better still, what can be struck off the ‘to do’ list because it’s crap/expensive/hot/busy. So when my pal over at Circles in the Sand wrote about a new horticultural extravaganza that had opened up just down the road from us, I decided to give it a try. Armed with a bottle of water and enough antihistamine tablets to cure an elephant of hay fever, my son and I and our friends set out this afternoon for the self-proclaimed “most beautiful and biggest natural flower garden in the world”.
Sounds dubious? Well it’s very pretty. And big. It feels like you are standing in the world’s largest hanging basket. There are pyramids, birds, heart shaped archways, and even a set of flower power painted cars, all full to the brim with flowers of every colour. Sustainable? Well, the developer claims the huge site is using waste water to keep the gazillion petunias flowering. But natural? In Dubai?
Natural or not, the ‘Miracle gardens’ were, indeed, miraculous. If slightly incongruous. Like a giant ski slope protruding into the sky, or a huge offshore development built into the shape of a palm tree, a massive garden of flowers is one of the last things you expect to see on the side of a motorway in the desert.
But miracles come at a price. Dhs 40, to be exact (they charged my 3 year old full price to enter). And honestly…the experience was average. Maybe if our kids hadn’t been swiped by over-enthusiastic filipinos and used as props for photo calls, or had a whistle blown at them near- continuously by the rather protective security men, I would feel differently. One particularly enthusiastic guard saw the kids coming and proceed to stalk us, literally manhandling the boys off the grass and picking up long dead plants and shaking them at us, motioning that our children were ripping them up. Now, our kids are good kids, and they knew not to pick the flowers or run through the beds – but it’s a field full of flowers. If there is an opportunity to climb, or run, or play ‘driving’ on the grass that runs between displays, they are going to take it. What they don’t do is rip plants from the ground. It was all a bit OTT for a few limp looking petunias.
After we lost the nazi gardener at the floral pyramids/Tele tubby caves, we decided to finish up and nipped to the snack tent to feed the boys ice cream. We hoped this would distract them from running around any more, which I thought should have been the point of all that open space. It didn’t. They ran around the tables and chairs instead. A learning moment might be that a few more bits of miraculous grassy areas wouldn’t go amiss, and neither would a play area for the little ones if they want to keep the beds free from wandering feet.
All in all, it was a pleasant hour spent herding small children away from the very things we had come to look at. The kids enjoyed it though and the ice cream was a welcome respite at the end. Would I go again? Maybe, if they add some more facilities and put some signs up that tell you what the rules are instead of blowing whistles at me. As for the big claim made by it’s name – well, for my money, the miracle will be keeping it all alive through the summer.