Gardens in Dubai serve many purposes. Some are cleverly designed to meet the demands of the community and high climates, while others are big-ticket attractions.
Among them, Dubai Miracle Garden has once again unlocked its gates to reveal the floral displays that its team have been working on in secret throughout the summer. Open from autumn through to spring, the garden changes every year.
Now in its 11th season, it’s abloom with an estimated 150 million flowers and new floral attractions, including a giant Sleeping Beauty, suspended in mid-air, her skirt of flowers trailing more than 10 metres to the ground below.
Existing installations include a flower-covered Emirates Airbus A380 aeroplane, tunnels formed of heart-shaped trellises wrapped in blooms, and a 12-metre-tall floral teddy bear, which has become the most popular spot in the garden for wedding proposals.
Smurf Village, filled with foliage and models of the famous Smurfs, will get a further makeover in November when the characters are dressed in flag-themed football shirts in a nod to the FIFA World Cup taking place in the region for the first time.
Commenting on where the ideas come from, creator and co-founder of Dubai Miracle Garden, Engineer Abdel Naser Rahhal says: “Every year, we change a significant percentage of the designs to provide visitors with something new. The designs in the garden are separated into two major groups: licenced designs, like the Smurfs, and our designs. Our designs are an ongoing process. During the season, we start accumulating ideas. Sometimes the idea will pop up from a bird flying by or watching a movie.”
While these headline-grabbing big-ticket gardens attract crowds, residential gardens form the backbone of Dubai’s communities, giving residents a green retreat with running tracks, alfresco exercise machines, sports courts and play areas that are free to use.
“We adapt the design of parks and open spaces to the culture of the place,” says Annie Baille, Associate Director at Dubai-based landscape architect firm Place Dynamix. “For example, we find people coming out later at night here, wanting to use the space after sunset when it’s cooler, so ample lighting is incredibly important. And, obviously, we use native plants, like the national ghaf tree of the UAE, a lot of plants from Asia that are resilient to warm climates, and plants like the neem tree and delonix tree, both very good shade trees, wide branching, creating lots of shade for people to walk or sit under.”
Right next door to Dubai Miracle Garden, there's Dubai Butterfly Garden, featuring a cluster of custom-built domes. Inside, you can walk among 50 different varieties of butterflies in all different colours and sizes.
Al Barsha Pond Park is a flourishing example of one of Dubai’s much-loved green spaces, spanning almost 50 acres, filled with gardens and a vast pond featuring a pair of fountain jets and a fleet of swan-shaped peddle boats. If gardens are the lungs of a city, this one is a perfect spot to take a breather.