A Secret Garden

Away from the rush of the city, this secret gar­den is sit­u­ated in Green Acres, Rai­wind

By Aar­zoo Naeem Chaudhry

Tucked away, far from the dust and smoke of Lahore is a ‘Secret Gar­den.’ As pretty as the place is, not many peo­ple know about it. It is a heaven for those who want to give their eyes a rest from the insane traf­fic and pol­lu­tion clogged city of Lahore. Slightly out of the ever-growing radius of Lahore these gar­dens are near the Rai­wind Road in Green Acres area. In the orig­i­nal story of The Secret Gar­den, there is a key that opens the hid­den doors of the gar­den. The ‘key’ of this ‘Secret Gar­den’ how­ever is not hid­den as the gates are open to pub­lic on spe­cial occa­sions or on per­mis­sion. There is even a bed of flow­ers arranged in the shape of a huge key-hole at the back of the house.

Mohammad Ashraf Sheikh

Moham­mad Ashraf Sheikh

Moham­mad Ashraf Sheikh, the proud owner of the gar­dens is pas­sion­ate about his gar­den and flow­ers. On enter­ing the home, we saw him stand­ing in the warm spring sun, slightly bent over, instruct­ing the gar­den­ers on pick­ing out weeds in the grass. His pas­sion for gar­den­ing was evi­dent as he talked about his plants and the way he man­ages his gar­den. “I have nine to ten gar­den­ers work­ing here, in fact eleven, if you include the ‘Head maalee’ – me.” Ashraf Sheikh is one of those peo­ple who have a nat­ural flair for gar­den­ing and keep their gar­den burst­ing with col­ors in every sea­son. “I don’t live in this house; my sons live here with their fam­i­lies. But, I come here every­day to check on my flow­ers and plants,” he said.

A Secret Garden pool

The con­ver­sa­tion with him turned out to be quite infor­ma­tive and edu­ca­tional as he gave us a tour of his gar­dens and explained the botan­i­cal and com­mon names of each flower under review. The path­way lead­ing to the back of the house is lined with Sweet Peas and shaded with fruit trees. The fruit trees bear figs, oranges, man­goes, cheekoos and lemons amongst other fruits. “The fruits from my gar­den are juicy and deli­cious, we don’t need to buy fruit from the mar­ket, we have all that in our own gar­den,” he says with a smile.

There are a lot of pot­ted plants near the swim­ming pool area that include exotic flow­ers like Lil­lium and Tulips. There is a range of Cacti, some of which Ashraf has bought from Faisal­abad and other areas of Pak­istan. He brushes aside any super­sti­tions related to plant­ing or keep­ing cac­tus in the home. “Cac­tus, like all other plants and flow­ers, is a cre­ation of God, and noth­ing that God has cre­ated can ever be cursed!”

A Secret Garden Pool

A Secret Garden

A Secret Garden

There is pride and hap­pi­ness in Ashraf Sheikh’s tone when he talks about his prop­erty. “The con­tour­ing and land­scap­ing of the land was done by Aamir Qureshi – an intel­li­gent and cre­ative designer. I give him and my gar­den­ers credit for the beauty you see here,” says the ever-humble Ashraf Sheikh.

A Secret Garden

There is a jun­gle gym and a pair of swings for children’s recre­ation. And if that was not enough Ashraf Sheikh has built a bar­be­cue area and even a tan­door oppo­site the pool. There is also a beau­ti­ful small annexe in the far­thest cor­ner of the gar­den that adds to the life of the ambiance.

Once you’re inside the gar­dens you can feel pos­i­tive vibes run­ning through you. This is how it always feels to be close to the beauty of nature. We can all cre­ate a ‘Secret gar­den’ of our own in our homes even if we don’t have acres of land. The impor­tant thing is not the num­ber of plants and flow­ers but the close­ness you share with nature. 

Secret-GardenThis arti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished in the print edi­tion of Val­uemag, issue 1, May 2008.




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A Secret Gar­den, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 rat­ings