While most people fall in love with a property because of the house, for Shahida Siddique and her family, it was the views from this Emirates Hills garden that clinched the deal. “From the moment we saw the greenery of The Montgomerie golf course next door and the magnificent skyline of Dubai in the distance, we knew we wanted to live here,” she says.
Not surprisingly, as CEO of Spadunya Colour Experience, a JBR spa that offers light, sound and colour therapy face and body treatments, and Spadunya SARL, the company that manufactures organic colour therapy spa range Altearah Bio, when it came to her garden, Shahida’s design philosophy centred around three words – peace, beauty and balance. “Because of my work in holistic colour therapy, it’s natural that I want family and friends to feel calm and rejuvenated when they are here,” she explains. “Everything, from the colours of the flowers, furniture and the swimming pool’s mood lights to the chimes I’ve hung from trees, has been added to create a blissful atmosphere. I love walking through the garden and listening to the birds. There is a definite sense of serenity here.”
The original space was designed by an Australian landscaper who has since left Dubai. He gave Shahida his original specs, but in the final plans she also incorporated a couple of ideas of her own. The space measures about 1,393 square metres, including the entrance to the house, which she says she wanted to be really bright and cheerful. The lush feel in this area is thanks to a variety of carefully positioned palm trees and multicoloured Thai bougainvillea. “My favourite palm is the Bismarck, a beautiful, imposing tree with massive silvery-green leaves, but all the palm trees and bougainvillea are sculptural, adding texture to the landscape.”
One of Shahida’s favourite colours is red and it features prominently throughout the space, especially at the main entrance. Pots bursting with flaming ixora flowers and sharp-leafed poinsettias line the stairs leading to the front door. “I want people to feel revived when they walk in,” Shahida says. “I’m hoping the flowers keep their colour until March.”
In other sections of the garden, poker red flamenco-skirted geraniums bloom alongside tall, crimson salvia flowers framed by trumpet-like, white petunias, the latter adding a countryside feel to the tropical landscape.
Being a busy businesswoman, Shahida admits she can’t garden as much as she would like. “Because I am at work all day, I have a wonderful full-time gardener. His name is Khuda Baksh, which aptly means ‘blessing’ in Persian,” she says. “Khuda cares for the plants, cleaning, de-heading and pruning them. You can tell by how beautifully the garden has grown that he really loves what he does. I’m almost certain he talks to the plants.”
Another of Shahida’s passions is cooking and she has set aside a small section of the garden for growing organic herbs and vegetables. “I’ve grown chives, mint and spinach. I’ve also planted tomatoes and, more recently, an aubergine plant. It’s such a beautiful vegetable.”
As for her plans for the garden, Shahida says, “I’m looking for exotic plants. Almost every Dubai garden is the same because nurseries stock only plants known to thrive in the heat. I also need to decide where to position a larger vegetable garden because there are a couple of dishes I’d love to cook using home-grown produce.”