Living during the pandemic era has had people look out for different hobbies to break away from the routine that has eliminated most of the activities that were prevalent during pre-COVID-19, and one that seems to be seeing growth is gardening. Could it be a horticulture therapy?
It is summer but that is not stopping established and upcoming gardeners in Oman. It could be the time that is spent at home, which is more than ever before.
Nasser al Meer is in the family business art of which is also nurseries and he has seen this growing number of garden enthusiasts and what is more – they have begun to see younger fans of plants.
“During this pandemic time, most people are staying at home and they are developing a keenness to take gardening as a hobby to create a different atmosphere for them as they go through the current situation,” said Nasser who has a passion for plants.
So what is the trend now?
“Most people are coming for indoor plants now because the summer heat of Oman makes it a bit difficult to take care of pants outside. So people are going for the money plants because they are easy to grow.
People also like Areca palm, Dracaena marginata, rubber plant, Dracaena Massangeana, and ZZ plant. But some people come looking for exotic plants to experiment with growing them. All of these plants are easy to grow except maybe for the rubber plant,” explained Nasser.
Experimentation can be challenging while making a sanctuary at home.
“Yes, you have to make sure you have the right environment for them to grow right. Others already have plants and they come to us to report their plants or to buy some plant food,” said Nasser.
This time however they are seeing a new group of customers – young plant enthusiasts.
“It is interesting and encouraging to see youngsters coming and buying plants. They are trying to build this new hobby. I think by the time the season comes with cooler whether they will be coming to buy some more plants to grow outside,” he noted.
Once again social media is assisting the nurseries in connecting with the customers, “Some of our customers like to ask questions on their plants and we are there and very often they want to know what is in the stock.”
What is interesting is what the youngsters are looking for – “They come in and they ask for something exotic, plants that are normally not found in Oman in recent years. They want something unusual that looks nice and is more challenging. I think they want that challenge and have fun by growing some exotic plants.”
Some of the youngsters are keen on flycatchers too – plants that eat flies. “We learn from their interests too,” he pointed out adding their parents would have liked an Areca palm, but they want plants that are different from their parents' taste in horticulture.
With the onset of the pandemic, Nasser quickly made adjustments to incorporate customers’ safety by ensuring the practice of social distancing, wearing masks, and making available at the entrance hand sanitizers which the public can use as they enter and leave. But he has also come up with a concept for the protection of the environment and reduces wastage. It is called ‘Swap a pot.’
“Swap a pot’ is an initiative we came up with within our stores for our customers to exchange their plastic pots when they want to buy
ceramic pots. Instead of throwing their older pots in the trash they can bring it here and leave it in the open bin here so others can pick them up free,” he explained.
The pandemic has not completely had an impact on the nurseries although they were closed during the lockdown the stocks have managed to arrive even though there have been some delays. “We are getting more stock now and then and accordingly we update everyone on Instagram - @Aljanayin and @Wakangardens.”