I’ve taken to incorporating a daily jog around the compound lake into my evenings as part of an unsuccessful exercise regime that I spend more time devising and tweaking rather than actually following. The theory is that I may be motivated to go jogging once a fortnight if I tell myself sternly every day that I really should be jogging. I’d read about the newly opened Dubai Miracle Garden in the Al Barsha area. A visit wouldn’t hurt, I thought, and it would be a nice change from the lake to stretch the legs.
The garden plays host to 45 million flowers blooming in an area that was once desert. This is hardly astonishing – Dubai’s forte is creating fantastically improbable things, such as a ski slope rising from the searing sands. Unsurprisingly, the garden’s flower wall may be the longest one in the world – I couldn’t help feel a ripple of proprietal pride for the city when I heard this. With the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain, of course any flower wall our gardeners construct is bound to be the longest, tallest, widest and practically perfect in every way, like Mary Poppins.
The place is a bit out of the way and it had opened just a few days ago, but it transpired I wasn’t the only one who’d congratulated themselves on finding some naturally colourful space to enjoy. Stepping in, it was immediately apparent any plans of jogging could flutter out of the window. The garden was chock full of people and you could hardly walk for fear of tripping over wailing kids or unwittingly photo-bombing. The breeze carried the delicious fragrance of all those flowers to your nostrils, although it was complimented with the whiff of far too many people crammed into one space.
The scale of the project is awe-inspiring, though, with baskets piled with vibrant splashes of fuchsia, tangerine, royal purple and every colour of the rainbow. There are giant topiary peacocks and rows of heart-shaped arches for couples to giggle under. Hundreds of umbrellas form a canopy, adorned with images of Ben 10, Spider-Man and Hannah Montana – a bold statement about the sheltered nature of childhood, perhaps; we’d like to think there’s thought behind something so odd.
Another canopy’s roof seems to be using recycled bottles to dangle hanging plants over your head, and a scaled-down floral model of the Pyramids of Giza hits you in eye-watering shades of crimson. It’s all a tightly geometric, modern-art sort of design focusing on blocks of colour. My inward eye couldn’t help but be reminded of Wordsworth’s Daffodils, as he noted “Ten thousand saw I at a glance, / Tossing their heads in sprightly dance” – only here the host was of a massive number of petunias.
Dubai Miracle Garden is an impressive sight but slightly overcrowded; everywhere you turned, you were bound to bump into a mum yelling at her kids to smile for the camera or friends snapping selfies. The original purpose of my visit – jogging – was out of the question, but playing “Avoid walking into someone’s photograph” was more than enough of a calorie-burner to handle.
Lavanya Malhotra is a 17-year-old student in Dubai