Saturday, November 18, 2006

Casablanca

I had to spend four days in Casablanca for work last week. If you’ve never been, don’t put it on your wish list – the smog will take a day off your life for every day you spend there, and with the exception a of a few stupendous buildings it’s a phenomenally ugly town.

There are signs that they’re trying – the streets, which tend to be wide, are all lined with trees and there are various small parks and squares with trees and flowers dotted around the city. Palms abound, but I also saw lots of other types, including some ficus benjamina which made mine look like a bonsai. There was also an enormous old magnolia with a twisted and knarled trunk which must be fantastic in spring when it’s in flower.

The Casablancans don’t seem to be great balcony gardeners. It was 25° when I was there, so in summer the heat on the balconies must be phenomenal, and probably very little would survive. However, the richer, residential areas of the town are made up of villas with gardens – all surrounded by high walls and hedges. The most popular hedging plants were hibiscus, plumbago and bougainvillea – I’d never seen the last two used as hedges before, but in some cases they were up to fifteen feet. They were past their best by now, but when they are in full flower (or bract in the case of the bougainvillea) must look incredible. Except that in most cases their owners seemed keen to keep them under control and they all showed signs of having been cut into rectangular box shape. At the top the new growth was flowering madly, but down below everything had been chopped bare. It looked like those hair cuts where the person shaves their head right up to the crown and then leaves the top long.

What’s the point? If you want a flowering hedge, let it flower. Cut it back in the winter. If you want a nice rectangular shape, use privet or box or something.

2 comments:

Ilona said...

"If you want a nice rectangular shape, use privet or box or something"
My sentiments exactly! There is something misshapen about a hedged plant with sorry looking little vestiges of bloom to mock the viewer of what might have been!

Casablanca seems to have an undying mythical status... I don't doubt your description one bit, but the name of the place still promises romance and mystery. Must be that old Boey movie;)

Ilona said...

Bogey- Bogart...you know the one, that my typo messed up!

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