How does my garden grow? Well it doesn’t. No scratch that, there are a couple of things that grow in my garden, the gigantic date palms and the Ficus trees and therein lies the problem.
I grew up in an area where the garden was more likely to be waterlogged or too cold to grow anything so imagine my excitement when moving to a house with a garden in Israel that had sunshine, warmth, little rain and ready planted fruit trees. Three years on I want a balcony.
We had a banana plant (which has since be chopped down following that night), a lemon tree, olive tree, date palms and yuccas, it all seems on first view to be so exotic and wonderful. But we have Ficus trees. Ficus is more commonly known as fig but do not be mistaken into thinking that our garden sports an impressive fruit bearing tree. Oh no, our garden sports 3 overgrown, root-tastic, uncontrollable Thai Ficus trees. And no, they are not the bonsai variety. The gardener who recently came over to give me a price for salvaging my garden reliably informed me they are Thai Ficus and no-one should ever be allowed to plant them near houses (I have since googled Thai Ficus and I am not convinced he’s right on the name). Think the story of the magic porridge pot but with roots and leaves and I don’t know the magic word to make it stop, except perhaps axe or poison.
Said gardener regaled me with stories of Ficus roots lifting houses from their foundations, the trees killing everything around them in their quest to survive and I know from experience that these darned roots can work their way into your pipes. Our bathroom has been flooding on and off for 2 years until a plumber comes and cuts the roots underground, down the pipe. Yes really – who knew such a machine existed? This new gardener, whose name is Shimmy and therefore became my favourite person even before I met him, gave me some hope to my gardening skills when he pointed out that the grass doesn’t grow because of the Ficus roots under the lawn, the plants don’t grow in the borders because the Ficus blocks the sun and takes the nutrients out of the soil and in short anything that needs water doesn’t stand a chance, yes you guessed it, the ficking Ficus takes the lot. So they’ve gotta go. The uplifted tiles on the patio, the blocked pipes and the bumps under the bedroom floorboards is warning enough I think that this is just the start of one hell of a horror story.
Now what about those beautiful date palms? Rustling in the wind, casting long shadows across the garden, dropping dates that rot all over the (parched and hungry) grass, providing birth centres for cockroaches and attracting bats that relieve themselves all over my drying washing. I think chopping the palms down maybe a little excessive so I will just have to fork out an inordinate sum of money to get a specialist to come and clean them up. Although there are a couple that have just given up on their own.
My plan for this week is to try to breathe some life back into the garden, not that I can plant anything because the f word will kill it in a week. I can however water it a bit more (plenty of water available as there’s not much long shower/full bath action going on at the moment due to the roots in the pipes problem) and I have taken the shears to the overgrown leaves this morning as I am unable to wait another week for Shimmy to come in order to see the sky. Where is Alan Titchmarsh when you need him, if ever a garden needed a makeover it’s mine. Roll on next week when hopefully Shimmy will shimmy in with heavy machinery and cut these blighters down and give me back my garden.