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Episode 19: Wild About Flowers

Episode 19: Wild About Flowers

Issue 61 October 2009

In search of fellow garden lovers, Sarah Joseph speaks to Fakhira Khwaja about her passion for flowers.


Fakhira Khwaja has been gardening for 15 years ever since she moved into her current house. Before that her passion had been limited to care for some indoor pot plants. Influenced by her grandmother’s yard in Pakistan she fell in love with gardens at a young age, “My grandmother had lots of different plants, trees, shrubs and pots. I always admired her flowers.  And when I was little, my school had beautiful grounds; always well kept by the two gardeners. My Headmistress was a lovely Australian lady who was very passionate about flowers and so the whole school was full of them.”


Fakhira’s own garden is a riot of colour, brought to the garden from an eclectic range of flowers as well as a mosaic feature, “I wanted something in my garden that would make it brighter; the grey cement walls were quite bare and an eye sore. The mosaic took me over two months to set out.” However, it is not the mosaic, but a fountain which is Fakhira’s favourite feature, “I love to sit out on my hammock under the sunshine and listen to the water falling. The sound is very soothing; a welcome relief from the usual hustle and bustle of life. It always relaxes me.”

With a severe back problem, aspects of gardening are hard for Fakhira; she describes weeds as her “arch enemy”, and slightly bemoans the fact that her children do not share her passion, “My girls aren’t very interested in the garden so I have to do all the work myself! But as far as the heavy lifting goes, I leave that to my youngest daughter!”

With the different seasons, as the flowers bloom, Fakhira shifts her pots around, but will be reducing the amount of pots she has next year, “I’ve collected quite a large amount of pots this summer and it’s hard to get all the way round the garden with my back, so I’ll need to cut some of the pots out.”


Despite her back, Fakhira admits she just gets on with it, “I’m very passionate about my garden, so it gives me a lot of satisfaction to sit back and look at what I’ve managed to do. I started my garden from scratch; it was plain ground when we moved in. All my mature plants, my shrubs – everything I planted with my own hands. There wasn’t a single plant when we first got here.”

Her main inspiration is nature itself, “I’m a huge appreciator of nature.  Allah says plants are living things; they breathe just like we do and require love and attention.” Like me, Fakhira admits to talking to her plants, much to her daughters’ dismay, but she is adamant, “The plants give me great happiness when I see them flourish and bloom.”


 Her favourite plant is called ‘motiyah’, although she’s never managed to find it in Britain, “The smell is just divine;” she says, “When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to say that wherever the Prophet’s beads of perspiration fell, motiyah grew – filling the air with its sweet scent. It’s such a delicate flower, that it can only last a day and then it withers.”

 Gardening is Fakhira’s hobby, and she invests huge amounts of time in it, “It’s really like another child, so naturally deserves all the love and attention that you’d give your children.” But it is also a place of relaxation as well as affirmation for her, “It’s really the only place that’s an expression of me. Being a house-wife, it’s nice to have something that belongs only to you.”ò


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