By Design

a Garden - Hilary Munro

designa GardenBy DesignText: Hilary Munro Photographs: George FakhryOBELISQUE109


That this spectacular garden is an achievement of someonewith a passion for gardening is obvious. ThatMedhat Khalil is not a professional landscape gardenermakes this garden even more special. Medhat is a businessmanand entrepreneur in the IT industry, but gardening is hishobby, which he pursues with knowledge and dedication at everyavailable opportunity.Previous Page: A spiky succulent plant, the serated narrowleaf of the Bear Grass (Dasylirion serratifolium), is a stunningarchitectural plant. This desert plant, with its need for full sunand little water, is a good choice for the Egyptian garden.Left: A wonderful peaceful scene, with the fronds of theElephants foot sago tree (Cycas Crinalis) dipping gracefullytowards the pool. Purple and white striped Petunias providethe perfect foil and splash of color.This pond is a low maintenance and low cost water featureneeding only a pump and aquarium filtration system to supportboth fish and plants. “For water lilies, you need a water depthof around 90cm,” advises Medhat, “and a few fish, to have agood natural equilibrium system.” The water is cleaned twice ayear and slow-release fertilizers added to the aquatic plants.Below: Bold red Petunias, white Alyssum and blue Lobelia contrastto the delicate yellow pastel shades of the water lilies in the pool.

Planning and building such a complexnatural environment requires a greatdeal of forethought and planning.Wisely, this garden is planted to thrivein the Egyptian climate and latitudewith its low rainfall, plentiful sunlightand light sandy soil.The garden plan is mainly deep herbaceousborders with large mature treesproviding the main infrastructure andunder-planting with a rich collectionof free flowering perennials. Manyshrubs and perennials flower seasonally,but these are placed in groups sothat there is always a touch of color atany time of the year.Hardscape, the pools and rock surround,are the non plant man-madepart of this garden and provide thefoundation or backdrop to the garden.Their purpose is to set thetone through the choice of materialscontrasting softening water featuresagainst a contrasting hardscape contour.One high maintenance luxury featurehas been permitted – the luxuriantgreen lawn – this feature, as all gardenersknow in these climes, requirea great deal of care with fertilizer andinsecticide programs and a great dealof water daily.Hardscape shaded seating areas andmany pathways invite visitors to considernew aspects and different playsof light.Right: Hardscape features of pinkEgyptian granite form the waterfall with rocks set against the whitepebble dash surrounding the pool.Red salvia is used to great effectbehind the waterfall before thedifferent textures of green.OBELISQUE112Papyrus grows to the right of theSalvia behind the lovely gracefulshape of the Sago Tree (CycasCrinalis) planted within the pond onits own island. Who could resist sittingbeside this shady pond amongsta profusion of flowers with fishswimming lazily under the water lilies?


Left: A close-up of the magnificentroots of Thatch Screwpine (PandanusTectorius). A native of the Pacific andnorth Queensland, this tree grows well insandy soils.It prefers full sunlight, but will toleratesome shade. The fruit can be used injam and its fibers are valuable as naturaldental floss. Clustered round the base ofthe tree are deep blue Lobelia flowers, afree flowering annual.Right: A wonderful display of mauveand blue Lobelia with the deeply lobedbroad young hollyhock (Alcea) leavespushing through showing spring promise– a good example of the planning in thisgarden to provide color in all seasons.OBELISQUE114Medhat began this informal private garden of about 1,400 square meters some time ago to enhance the beauty of thegrounds surrounding his house. Like all successful gardens, it has been carefully planned and planted to provide an impressionof artless simplicity. Many pathways entice the curious to enjoy new aspects and views.Fortunately, for those who do not have the expertise or green fingers to create a lovely garden, but nevertheless have thespace and desire to create one, there are many professional landscape gardeners and plant nurseries who can turn a visioninto reality. ΩEgypt is a wonderful place to source the hardscape man-made features which are the essential frame to any garden. Pinkgranites from Aswan, Porphyry from the Red Sea valued for its density and strength, polished limestones and marble. Themodern architect and landscape designer is walking in ancient footsteps when choosing and placing these lovely stones,as any excursion to any Pharoanic or Roman historical site can attest - and through all the centuries since. And remainsa major export of Egypt today.Egyptian companies specialising in water features, waterfalls and pools, are easily found. They can advise on how to createa water feature to complement the landscape plan and create a water-tight lined pool complete, if wished, with plantsand fish.Other companies will provide maintenance contracts to keep both the water quality and the pumps working well.

OBELISQUE116The hardscape feature of pool andwaterfall provide a dramatic counterweightto the garden. The white striatedwaterfall feature has inset lightson the flowing water so it remains afocus at night.The pool’s crystal clear water is maintainedby a similar system to a swimmingpool – a chemical purificationsystem that includes a pump, a sandfilter, and a chlorinator.No fish or plants can grow here, ofcourse. Blue tiles line the pool to emphasiseits color which is contrastedby the natural colored pebble-dashpool hardscape surround.The full richness of the landscaping inthis gardevn is captured in this photograph.Clearly the garden is not onlyornamental, but also includes fruitingtrees such as Papaya and Medjool datepalm.In the mixed planting of this herbaceousborder, different textures,colors and shapes combine to provideinterest. The highest trees arethe ornamental Cuban Royal Palm(Roystonea Regia) and Toddy FishtailPalm (Caryota Urens), so called fromthe shape of its leaves and because thesap yields an unrefined sugar calledjaggery, provide the high notes. Bothare well adapted to the Mediterraneanclimate.The mid-level of the border is capturedby the sago tree (Cycas Crinalis)and pink iceberg roses. Underplantinginterposes sharp clumps of color.In the foreground, a Papaya (Caricapapaya) with ripe fruit overhangs thepool. Behind the water feature, andcontrasting its white façade, is thefast growing Areca Palm (ChrysalidocarpusLutescens) Deglet Noor DatePalms (Phoenix Dactylifera) . Bothplants are drought tolerant and requirelow maintenance and providegood screening. Ω

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