Post by principe.azzurro69 on Sept 18, 2013 5:33:38 GMT
Forget about it. Period. They don't have space, they don't have houses, and nobody will tell you until you physically get here. Big shock for me and for many of my colleagues and friends. But that's what it is at the moment.
Housing depends ALSO (but not exclusively) on where you work: in my case, I work in DHA and am on bachelor status. You will be assigned to one of the youth-hostel like buildings in RT where bachelors are given so-called "studio apartments", simple 25/28 sqm basic apartments that give on a hospital-like floor with small windows or towards the main road or to the back yard. Utilities are new, kitchen is new and that's about the only positive thing I can say.
RT housing office is quite cool about this, they say "this is what we have for the DHA people, take it or take it". Again, quite a shock especially when you get here after 10 or more hours of flight and in the middle of the night.
Wow - very negative vibe there principe! Should I now be more worried about the basics of my four walls and a roof, and completely forget any romantic notion I might have of cultivating the odd tomato?
The climate, salty water, different growing seasons, lack of expansive home gardening supply choices, and types of plants available make it frustrating and challenging to do a lot of serious outdoor gardening here anyway. Knowing what I know now, outdoor planting would be the least of my concerns when considering a move to KSA, and what I would plan to enjoy as a pastime. You may find it more consistently rewarding to dedicate an area inside the house for plant care until you've been here a bit, see what other people have as successes and fails outside their homes in the camp, and get a better sense of what might or might not grow in whatever particular outdoor space is allocated to you, whether it's a patch of grass, an alcove patio area, or a yard.
Another thing I hadn't anticipated when I had visions of myself as a new arrival, tending to my imaginary patio garden, was relinquishing control over hands-on everyday outdoor gardening. Coming to KSA as a homeowner in the US, accustomed to doing everything myself outdoors, I was surprised to learn that most residents with yards here have gardeners. When you're a new arrival, they will approach you very assertively to vie for your business. It's side work for them, and there's an expectation that you'll use their services. In an effort to please and ensure that they keep themselves busy at your home, they want and expect to handle anything related to yard and patio once you are their customer. In terms of year-round daily leaf cleanup and walkway hosing, it's a great arrangement. The unfortunate thing is, while they identify and pride themselves as gardeners, they are not trained in any real sense of landscaping or attractive gardening techniques. Even basic trimmimg is an issue, and they bave very rudimentary tools to use (we assembled a tool and supply cabinet for our gardener). After many battles over plant choices and locations, combinations, trimming and hedge care, we gave up the fight over aesthetics with our gardener, and gave resigned ourselves to just accept and deal with whatever "bushes" or flowers he installs periodically when the previous batches die in the weather and changing conditions. I keep houseplants, which satisfies my interest in making things grow, but admittedly do look forward to our retirement home, where I will definitely become hands-on again. I'll look forward to planting in a less harsh climate, with better outdoor water quality that doesn't kill things off with salt.
I was talking with one of my neighbors about this topic, and she shrugged, saying how she used to enjoy working in her garden in the States, but having the gardener situation at Aramco, she gave up caring too much since they do their own thing, and she'd given up trying to get hands into the plants outside. Granted, I can't imagine wanting to cut grass in the heat and wind, but the point is the aesthetics aren't a skill set...but they don't know that, and it's hard to convey that sensitively, especially with a significant language barrier.
If you can get some large barrel pots at say, Saco World, and assemble some attractively composed container gardens, that would be lovely.
I had one of the 'gardeners' cut my grass, but do nothing else. My houseboy hosed the patio and swept up the leaves.
I too had great ideas of having a nice garden when I finally (after 10 years!) got a bachelor house in the Hills with a garden. I had a sprinkler system installed. I dug out deep flower beds all round the edges and filled them with a mixture of horse manure (from the hobby farm), peat and sweet sand (delivered by gardening dept). I was then able to grow some flowers for a few years; I remember gazanias did very well. I also drilled holes in the walls, put up wires and planted hibiscus and bougainvillea. In a couple of years the walls were covered with beautiful flowering shrubs.
All was fine for a few years. Then Aramco decided that all the walls in the area should be repainted. They pulled all my shrubs away from the walls, laid them out on the grass and sprayed - not only the wall, but my flower beds also, which poisoned everything. I tried putting the shrubs back on the walls, but they were never the same again. I had a large mature tree which got a bit too big, so I called gardening to come and trim it. It was done while I was at work and they absolutely destroyed it. All I was left with was a trunk and some stumps where the branches had been. I gave up.
I for one like my outdoor gardening and do everything myself, but mow and rake leaves. My houseboy sweeps and washes off the patio and lawn furniture. It took changing gardeners to find one who would not touch my plants, not even if they thought they were dying. But I found a gardener I could work with and communicate with.
Don't hesitate to fire a gardener who is not working out, you should wait a week before hiring another gardener. Sometimes they live together and they don't want problems in their house. That is what happened to me, fired the one and the one I wanted to hire asked me to wait a week before he began, because the first one would be mean to him if he started right away.
I have a long time friend who has grown many varieties of tomatoes outside in his yard for many years.
Now, see? A few tomatoes, maybe some peppers and courgettes (zucchini to you my American friends). Will they grow? Will they wither and die? That's the whole point, the 'fun' is battling against the elements (natural or man-made in the form of well meaning helpers), and finding out what works well and when.
My poor old garden at home (the East Midlands, UK) came through the wettest winter and spring we've had in my memory this year. All my early crops rotted in the ground. But now? We've had a lovely (by our modest standards) summer, which has resulted in a bumper harvest of soft fruit, squash and apples. Reap and sow, reap and sow....
Thanks for all the comments. What a wonderful forum this is.
Oh, and by the way. Just had my offer, BI and medicals to come, but will hopefully be putting faces to names in my assigned location of......
I am a Brit's son and I love my flower garden and really am keen to get back to messing with my marigolds. Is it possible to bring over some of my flower seeds and if so, will they do well as potted plants in the Kingdom?
You can bring your flower seeds. You can buy marigolds here. It will depend on your location for the pots. Too much sun, they may not do well. Not enough sun, they may not do well. If you can find the right spot for your plants/flowers they will grow well.
By trial and error I found the exact spot a rose bush will grow in a pot on my front patio. It cannot be moved in any direction from the spot, or the bushes do not survive. The one I have now is 4 years old. It took a few years to find that spot.