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Location: Muscat, Oman/ Bangalore, India

Round Peg....in a square hole. That describes me! All my life I have never quite fit in ... now I have just given up trying to live up to the expectations of the square hole or trying to find a round one!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

In praise of the Portulaca

Take a somewhat inept gardener and add to that the harsh desert summer. Sounds like a sure fire recipe for failure? Nope. Not if you have the Portulaca!!

I discovered the Portulaca during my first summer in Qatar. To give an idea of how bad summers can be - I could wash my pair of jeans and hang them outside to dry, come in to take a shower by which time my jeans would be totally dry - ready to wear!

As we were wilting in the near 50 C heat, the round abouts' (traffic circles) and the flower beds along the Doha Corniche would be resplendent with the happiest flowers I ever saw! In vibrant shades of yellow, red, white & orange.They were the Portulaca.

Inspired, I planted Potulacas along a barren flowerbed and in less than a month they were flowering. The leaves are a shiny succulent green and the small 1-inch flowers come in many colours.

Soon we had a flower bed that was all yellow and red and white interspersed by a little green. It edged our lawn and the effect was truly stunning. As the weather cooled, the Portulacas had a steady stream of admirer - the sparrows came and so did the bees and the butterflies.

Also known as the Moss Rose or Purslane, the Portulaca is a low growing perennial that grows sideward rather than upwards. It therefore makes for an ideal ground cover. Use it to frame a lawn. Or hide a rocky part of your garden. Anywhere.

All you need to start off is a few cuttings of the plant. The plant is not too fussy about soil, but adding some manure to the soil if you live in the Gulf is a good idea. Choose a sunny spot.

Try this plant out folks. It asks very little of you. Plant it in the most inhospitable spot of your garden or balcony. One that receives lots and lots of sun. Colour co-ordinate it or go in for a riot of colours or choose just one colour. Water it every now and then and wait for the magic. You will soon be greeted by a cascade of flowers and your mornings will never be the same again.

The regular variety tends to shut shop by noon but the hybrids remain open all day long.

An Aside:

Please direct me to a nursery in Muscat. We live in Al Khuwair.

My neighbour tells me I need to go to Seeb which is some 40 kms away because that's where the nurseries are. Isn't there anything closer by?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smily3 - this is Winger. Where can I get this Portulaca from?? And will the Garden Centres in Muscat know it by this name?

There is a plany shop (mini nursey) in MQ centre, next to Muscat Pharmacy

12:45 AM, May 31, 2005  
Blogger AkaRound Peg said...

Nurseries in Muscat (or anywhere) will know the Portulaca by name. The Nursery close to Markaz Al Bahja which closed down used to have it - I bought it last year as gifts to friend when they moved into a house with a large garden.

I too want the Portulaca! Its the easiset and most cheerful plant to grow.

3:48 AM, May 31, 2005  

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