Friday, August 17, 2018

What Happens To Your Garden When You Go Away?

Inside before we abandoned them.
After a busy July in which DD had summer day-camp and I had two summer courses on the go, we were looking forward to a slower pace in August. My mother arrived on July 31st and spent five days with us in Jerusalem. We didn't do much, mostly hung out and played cards but also met with friends and went out for coffee.

On the sixth day we decamped to a hotel in Ashkelon for a few days of beach, pool and.... more card playing.

But before we go there - a word about my garden. This summer we finally beautified our modest balcony with plants and flowers. We also planted (sowed?) seeds with varying success rates. The balcony has a low wall all around it, that provides a shelf along three sides. The safety rail is fixed to the outer edge so nothing can fall off and we placed planters all round. We also bought a tree for the corner. It looked very pretty.

The problem with a garden on a west facing balcony in the Middle East, is that it gets very (very very) hot in the afternoons in the summer. You have to water it every day or the plants start drooping as if they are gasping for a drink. If you miss two days they die of thirst. As we were going away for five days, that would be three whole days in the middle without watering. I spent a serious amount of money at the plant nursery only a few short weeks ago. Believe me, if I had to stay home to babysit my plants I would have done. (Well perhaps not but you get the level of my concern.)

So pretty and full of life beforehand....
The solution was to bring everything inside.  I put a thick cloth on the dining table and also brought the balcony table inside. All the planters were arranged on the tables and before we left I over watered each pot. I also put the blinds down to keep it cooler inside. This was Monday morning. When we arrived home on Friday afternoon things were a little fragile but not too bad. Nothing that a few hours of sunshine wouldn't cure.

And here is where I made mistakes. Firstly, I watered everything again when actually the soil in every pot was still saturated. Then, I didn't put them back out in the sun to dry out a bit and soak up some rays. You see we were leaving again the following Monday for another mini-break with friends. I lazily decided to leave the plants on the tables inside for the duration - until the following Wednesday. Wrong decision! Even though the patio door was open all the time and blinds up to let in the sunshine over the weekend, 10 days of indoor living was not good for my poor plants.

I can only beg for forgiveness and another chance. 
By the time we arrived home on Wednesday at least three plants were completely dead. Another two had lost their pretty flowers and are hanging on by a thread. The tall, sturdy, something plant that we grew from seeds is now a bent old man with osteoporosis of the spine. I'm hoping for some resurrections over the next few days. We are in Jerusalem after all. I'll keep you posted.

I thought children tied you down, and I knew that animals tie you down... The truth is that over the years I've often had the key to various neighbours' apartments so that I could go in and water their plants while they are away. For now we're home for the duration with no plans to abandon my poor plants again until well into the cooler weather. But I still feel like one of those mothers who goes out partying, or worse, away for the week, and leaves her young children locked in the house at home.


  1. Oh dear, I am sorry to read about your plants, but glad you got a break. Hopefully the sun will work its magic and bring the plants back to life: they can be amazingly resilient x

    1. I hope so too but they don't look any better today - after a full day of outside sun. We may need to visit the plant nursery gain soon.