Gardens Endure in Baghdad

bagdhad garden topiary

The New York Times published an inspiring and uplifting article titled Fanciful Gardens Emerge in a City of Tan and Gray over the weekend.  I read about it over at Stephen Orr’s blog.  I find it fascinating that even through invasion, bombings and utter destruction, many people in Baghdad still lived in their gardens, maintained them and loved them.  Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Gardens remain one of the few flourishes of public ornament on Baghdad’s otherwise brown streets, defiant displays of foliage amid concrete blast walls and security checkpoints. And in its middle-class neighborhoods, Baghdad is a city of surprising topiary sculptures: leafy ficus trees are carved in geometric spirals, balls, arches and squares, as if to impose order on a chaotic sprawl. The trees provide a startling counterpoint of color and contour to the uniformly tan and rectilinear houses and walls surrounding them.

“This is our kingdom, our home,” said Mohammed al-Khalidy, an electrical engineer, standing in his garden, where ficus trees carved like deconstructed snowmen flank the street.

gardens in baghdad

Mazen Hammad, a worker for the Ministry of Health, was quoted, “When the situation was bad, I took care of the garden more than when it’s good,” …. “When you take care of the garden, you forget the war. But when the situation is good, you’re too busy with work.” Do you think this applicable elsewhere? I certainly find my self in my garden alot more lately (rather than usually being in someone elses).

The New York Times article was by JOHN LELAND and was originally published on October 31, 2009.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

1 Comment

  1. louise garwood on November 4, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Yes, gardens connect us with and affirm our sense of ‘place’. With sky over head and ground under foot, our hands busy with the work of tending and caring for the earth, our hearts can then be at peace. I loved this article ,too.

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