Gardening in Oman
Would a book on gardening in Oman be of value to a Chiang Mai gardener? Absolutely, it is easier to grow dry-loving plants than rain forest plants here, and one of Thailand’s most common ornamental plants, the desert rose (Adenium obesum, Apocynaceae), grows wild in Oman.
With irrigation, a garden in Oman may resemble a northern Thai garden including bougainvillea, dates, flame tree, hibiscus, ixora, oleander, plumeria and many more. Some of the plants are in fact native to northern Thailand’s dry monsoon forests (e.g. Millingtonia hortensis, Cassia fistula and Quisqualis indica). The book can be used as an inspiration for gardeners also along the tropical East African coast, subtropical north Africa and in central India too.
Title: Gardening in Oman and the UAE
Author & Publisher: Anne Love
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 113 pages, colour photographs
Order: Via Amazon UK
Although Anne Love and her husband Charles have an 18th century house in Bath in southern England, they currently live in Oman on the southern Arabian peninsula, which shares the Indian Ocean with e.g. Thailand, Burma, India, Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Anne’s love for gardening and her M.Sc. in agriculture have helped her to successfully experiment with various plants suitable for a hot and dry climate.
The book is comprehensively written; i.e. short enough to be read from cover to cover in a night, and yet a source of information whenever you need to look up something. In just nine pages she gives the basic principles of irrigation, composting and fertilizers, followed by the principles of plant propagation (four pages) and pests and pest control (four pages). The plant section is 79 pages and is pedagogically divided into chapters of plant types (ground covers, shrubs, climbers and trees). In total over 120 species are treated and in the rare cases when a plant is native to Oman that is clearly stamped ‘Native’. There is also a chapter on container gardening which should inspire anyone with a balcony in a tropical city. Another most valuable list is ‘What not to grow’.
To my delight this book is also armed with a bibliography and internet sources which reflect Anne’s educational mind. The salinity tolerance table at the end may be a bit advanced for a home gardener, and since valuable comments on salt tolerance are made in most of the species descriptions anyhow, this table might be surplus information.
The water requirement table is interesting to understand the amount of water consumed in the growing season. However, many species such as Delonix regia can be left without water in the dry season and that will enhance its blossom. There are different opinions regarding the action of water droplets as burning glasses or not. In any case, like Anne states, one should avoid watering in daytime anyhow because many plants can not take up that water and so most of it evaporates. I can also add that pumps which run for too long in too hot temperatures may break. Plants, animals, gardeners, computers and pumps all need a siesta during the hot hours!
What I really appreciate is Anne’s personal experience from growing these plants over many years. Her advice regarding seed germination of the desert rose is of value to Dokmai Garden where fruits are maturing at present (the elongated structures in the picture above). To make sure the seeds do not disappear suddenly, one should wrap the fruits using rubber bands and wait until they crack open.
In conclusion, this book is a valuable companion for anyone who wants to establish a tropical garden in a hot and dry climate.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand