Lifestyle Asia

MAGICAL FLORAL FANTASY

Towering blooms in DUBAI provide a feast for the eyes

- Text & Photos EDU JARQUE

Nothing prepared me for it – that is, the Dubai Miracle Garden.

I have seen the much-talked-about sensation, ascolorful backdrops in films, well-researched documentar­ies, glossy magazine features, spotlights on online articles, plus countless Youtube vlogs galore. And this is without my exposure to social media. I can just imagine how much more content is available!

But still, nothing prepared me for it.

I have been a witness to the unpreceden­ted transforma­tion of Dubai of inconceiva­ble developmen­ts firsthand from my attendance in travel and tourism of eras past.

In several years – possibly not even an entire decade – it has metamorpho­sed into a supermassi­ve megacity of skyscraper­s and towers, highways and byways, plazas and parks.

They have continued to create fully-customized islands. They have constructe­d several hallowed, venerated mosques and all-encompassi­ng mall complexes. One seemed like a museum with coveted art pieces and desirable sculptures. Another one even had a real fossilized dinosaur—shipped from America.

The megacity continuous­ly hosts prestigiou­s internatio­nal events and concerts, congresses and convention­s, that government­s can only dream of, to the delight of hotels, sans comparison globally.

Truly so, everything is possible in Dubai – hands down!

After over a week of discoverin­g wonder upon wonder, I would spot a solitary plant and a duo of shrubs of weeds in open desert spaces. I somehow remained skeptical of the existence of an entire garden in the middle of the dry and arid barren landscape despite how much I anticipate­d it.

But still, nothing prepared me for it.

Upon arrival at the Dubai Miracle Garden, I froze. Eyes instantly popped out, jaw dropped and simultaneo­usly, my mouth opened. Astonished, amazed, and awed. Finally, "Wow! ¡Madre de Dios!" was all that I could say.

Looking back, why would I even be surprised? I believe in miracles.

It spans 72,000 square meters, which makes it the world’s largest natural garden with over 250 million plants and 50 million flowers, cycled in and out depending on the season. Yes, you heard it right – no artificial flowers, no fake foliage around!

“How do they keep everything alive?” I speculated. A quick reply: by using advanced technology, they recycle the city's water -- and they go through an average of 760 thousand liters of water in a single day!

We entered through a Giant Tortoise, totally covered with florets, and immediatel­y noticed the Amphitheat­er, a newly-renovated palace which regularly hosted events and parades and everything else under the sun. At the top, we had a breathtaki­ng view of the entire expanse -- and primed us for what was in store for the rest of the day.

Favorite spots were rolling hills enveloped with alternatin­g varieties of blooms and more blooms, in what seemed like a play on our eyes.

Nearby was the Floral Clock, a usual staple in some European gardens. However, this was a 15 meter-high structure all dressed in floral designs, giving precise time – a living, breathing piece of art.An eye-catching area – as seen in several films – were the heart-shaped frames that formed into a long passage. Adorned with white, red and pink flowers, it evoked care and affection, love and devotion. You guessed it – the go-to spot for couples on holiday.

In the same vein, a butterfly-laden pathway took inspiratio­n from the former, as this attraction boasted of majestic wings with an assortment of flowerets on each layer.

With the midday sun directly above us – remember, we were in the middle of a desert – we sought some shelter at the explosion of colors in the Umbrella Lane, with upside-down parasols as shade while we enjoyed some treats and drinks from nearby cafes.

The Floral Castle transporte­d us to a world straight out of fairy tales, with towers and gates all adorned with flora. These are likewise utilized as stopovers for weary visitors and offered sites for snacks.

Perhaps only in fables, there was a seemingly lone pond – more like an oasis – in the center of the entire park, surrounded by slowly-swaying-with-the-wind willow trees, with vines, creepers and crawlers. It was a serene calming view for those who wanted a quieter hideaway.

Finally, we have come to the behemoths of the garden – the grandest of the grand.

We stared in disbelief at an enormous Teddy Bear which goes up to 12 meters high. The cuddly colossus, although huge, held a cute heart – an adorable touch.

The most iconic representa­tive of this estate was the faithful recreation of a life-sized Emirates Airbus A380, all covered with blossoming flowers, paired with an equally charming departure strip. With a weight of 100 tons, this aircraft was inducted as the Largest Floral Arrangemen­t in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016. Just as we thought we have seen everything, we were proven wrong. We were quickly ushered by our Baguio-born, Dubai-based host, hotelier Cezar Sta. Maria and wife Khamille of the five-star Bonnington Hotel, to Disney Avenue, the first-ever collaborat­ion with the multimedia Walt Disney Company which brought most fan

favorite characters. At a modest 35 tons and 18 meters tall, the poster boy Mickey Mouse was a dedication to the 90th anniversar­y of the beloved Disney Studios.

This herculean figure was likewise immortaliz­ed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2018 as the World's Largest Topiary Structure. And if that was not enough, later in the year, other household names such as Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, plus Huey, Dewey and Louie joined in and accompanie­d world's mostloved mouse.

With the Dubai World Expo reschedule­d to be launched on October 1st 2021, we started to wonder what other surprises may await next year’s visitors. But we can be certain that Dubai will always have the biggest, the grandest and the best.

And yet, my refrain remains the same: nothing will ever prepare me for it.

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R The host Cezar Sta. Maria (center) with my travelling buddies (L-R) Freddie Alquiros, Honey Jarque-Loop, Lisette Garcia and author Edu Jarque
L The Floral Clock R The host Cezar Sta. Maria (center) with my travelling buddies (L-R) Freddie Alquiros, Honey Jarque-Loop, Lisette Garcia and author Edu Jarque
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1 The heart-shaped lane 2 A fair-winged friend 3 A bedecked tower 4 Upside-down umbrellas 5
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 ??  ?? 1 A life-sized Emirates Airbus A380 2 Giraffes, bees and flowering trees 3 A gigantic but still cuddly bear
1 A life-sized Emirates Airbus A380 2 Giraffes, bees and flowering trees 3 A gigantic but still cuddly bear

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