Garden Photo of the Day

Ali’s mountainside garden in Iran

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

Let’s travel to the other side of the globe today! Today’s photos are from Ali Mollanazar in the Mazandaran Province of Iran.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

Ali says, “My God-given-gift, the little, yet beautiful ‘alpine rock garden’ is situated next to Marzamin- meaning Mamland-( مار زمین ) in Pardameh-ye Amiri- meaning Breezy District (پردمه امیری ) of Vana outskirts of Larijan county (Haraz road to Amol), the mountainous region just closely and happily overlooking the Damavand Top, the uniquely fascinating utmost peak of the Alborz mountain range rising circa 5,670 meters high from sea level, 75 km far from the Caspian Sea.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“It holds ample limestone, boulders, grits, chips, and pebbles. And being on the mountainsides, it has naturally provided all essential materials, facilities, and feasibilities for creating a reasonable ‘alpine rock garden’ with true special features like steep streams and water-worn rocky outcrops.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“It enjoys an alpine climate; 1,700 meters high from sea level, prevalently cool weather in summers, 10°C during nights – I don’t dare to sleep outdoors on the terrace, though some local old men do really enjoy that cool air. Icy cold in winters, minus 30° C during nights, just a little rain in springs and falls, yet lots of heavy snows in winters. If you are hardy enough, you can stay and possibly watch some avalanche rushing towards you in cold seasons. Oh, my God! Do not linger in its pathway to take pictures! You’d better escape off the way and save your life!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“The surface area of my hidden garden is about 2,000 sq. meters, which is big enough for me to allow my inner child to jump up and down and play naughty games until mammy (excuse me! Now, wife) calls; ‘It is getting too late for the dinner, stop that playing!’

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“Some of the main structures, decorations, and enhancements of this enclosed hidden garden include a milky white color duplex villa, just in the middle of the garden with an area about 220 sq. meters, which may somehow form the conspicuous focal point of the garden, especially with those two terraces, large & small, one on each deck. Just imagine sitting on your rocking-chair, moving to and fro, smoking the arresting Captain Black antiquity tobacco in your Swedish handy dark brown pipe, occasionally sipping at your Brazilian traditional hot cappuccino in a china cup, watching the blaze rising from the peak point aloft the dormant volcano mouth of Damavand Mount, breathing the naturally purified oxygen of the clear blue sky, hungrily awaiting the Persian national flavoring lunch of Chelo-kebab. Bon appetite! A captivating superior Paradise!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“In addition to the above, plants in my garden exploit the generous support for irrigation from a shallow water well, yet with abundant clear cold water during whole spring and summer, and partly in fall. The well proved to be very shallow indeed, because though having in mind to dig in about 15 meters, fortunately at the depth of 6~7 meters it crossed a natural fountain culvert through which rain and snow water is flowing downtrend into the Haraz River. Right then and there, we decided to halt digging any further.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“This garden is constantly changing and altering from all walks or better to say it is always subtly evolving. I cannot estimate when it will become complete and finished. It looks like a mixed style garden, shady & sun-happy. I love it and feel it is worthy to spend part of my hard-earned cash on developing it ever more. I aim at keeping it as a natural rather than a botanical, or like Kew gardens.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“Although I myself have been very fond of flowers plants, fruits trees, planting, cloning, grafting, propagating, irrigating, landscaping, … and everything else related to gardening since childhood, I describe this as ‘our’ family garden because my dear, tidy, active, hospitable wife (Mrs. H.V.) has pushed me forward vigorously from the very starting point; procuring the required land, building the house, in addition to all the planting. Without her I would not have dared to undertake such overwhelming hardships aloft the mountain of no-easy-access. She is the think-tank which approves my ideas, and I must acknowledge my heartfelt gratitude to her here and now!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“Simply, pictures prove to be more communicative and expressive than words. Yet, I maintain that images suffer from some fatal deficiencies- being free of soul. No one will ignore or neglect the reality that notwithstanding how picturesque an image may be, it cannot depict any hints or traces of weather or temperature; how cool or warm it is, what smell or fragrance it carries, is it pure and clear, humid, or dry? It lacks the power to relay birds singing, bees buzzing… Gardens, with all the plants associated with them in the wider landscape, are living creatures. That is, they are born, they grow, mature, and then fatigue generally overcomes them, senility sets in and in turn there comes final full stop, or rather the virtual infinity. Instantly, new young species, full of fresh vigour and energy, carry on the responsibilities of life cycle…

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“You and I, reader, are still happily alive! It is our share of the God-given gift, the life cycle, and so it is our right to enjoy ourselves, making the most of our time! That is the reason I still have lots of clear ideas and vivid plans in mind to do tomorrow. There are precious objectives to be developed and completed. I am never in short of program for the future…and I have decided also that I will somehow reach a compromise with this so-called ‘Parkinsons’, to prevent it from taking hold of my life at any rate. Let it make me shake! That’s its nature, its gift to me–it can do no more to me! Eventually, I will be the winner, in following my delightful share of this great life cycle!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Ali Mollanazar

“I appreciate you for sparing your dear time by far. I humbly request you to present me with your instructive & directive comments which, by sure, will help me to develop my natural/mixed garden to look ever more appealing.” Gorgeous, Ali! And your words are as beautiful as your garden. Thank you so much for sharing both with us!

*****Al has a website where you can read much more about the garden and see LOTS more photos. Check it out HERE!*****

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View Comments


  1. redfox1939 11/13/2012

    Nice article you have here,it was a great way of sharing what you have and enjoying its beauty.Perhaps it is the serenity side of Iran that was very nice to look at. You might as well take a look at this article for some interesting and helpful ideas.

  2. mainer59 11/13/2012

    You have done well creating a personal space with room for outdoor activities while honoring your extraordinary view. I assume the gazebo is a lookout point. Thank you for showing the carport, house, terracing and all to get a better idea of how you have carved a beautiful spot out of a mountainside. The boulders here and there link to the natural state while the lush plantings in other places tame the wild landscape.

  3. duckcovegardening 11/13/2012

    Ali, Your mountainside gardens are wonderful. I love that you have combined natural materials, such as the tree stumps for seating at the wooden table near a terraced garden. The description of land, house, gardens and environment made me breath-in and see and experience in my mind's eye your beautiful gardening domain. You described everything so poetically that I will re-read your post again later today and can relate especially to the life cycle of all species and plants. Thank you for sharing your hard work and dreams for continuing to expand your fabulous gardens and landscape well into the future!!

  4. ozgoode 11/13/2012

    What a pleasure to see your lovely garden, and to read your excellent description Ali. You have the soul of a poet, and a heart of a gardener. You and your wife have made a delightful retreat!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/13/2012

    What a treat to spread our cyber wings and get to visit a far-away land. Ali, it certainly seems like you have an ideal situation...stunning far away vista views and beautiful things to enjoy up close.
    That dramatic yellow and green birdhouse is certainly an eye-catcher. OK, I'm going to now beg for your tolerance as I ask what might be a very dumb question...does your part of the world have pretty much the same species of birds a fairly similar area of mountainous terrain would have here in the United States? Could you share the names (ha, and I don't mean Tom, Dick and Harry, if you get my joke) of some of the birds that frequent your garden? Thanks!

  6. TeriCA 11/13/2012

    Ali, I looked at all your pictures, including your website and your garden is absolutely beautiful. If there is one thing that can unite some of us around the world--it is those of us who love and appreciate gardening. I also liked very much your beautiful descriptions of your garden, you truly do have the words of poet!

  7. greengrowler 11/13/2012

    I so agree with TeriCA about finding a commonality among people from faraway lands; in this case, a love of nature and gardening. It seems we typically hear only about the negative aspects of certain world regions, which may only be representative of a small group of people. It's comforting to be reminded that most folks just want a peaceful existence, to enjoy life, and be surrounded by what they love. As human beings, we are all connected to each other; it's best for all of the world to practice lovingkindess. Thank you so much Ali for sharing your garden and reaching out from across the world!

  8. sunterra7 11/13/2012

    Ali, your garden shown here was a delight to see. And your website is so very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing it. I love seeing how people around the world garden and your fine descriptions made me feel I was right there with you.

  9. wittyone 11/13/2012

    How ambitious of you to attempt a garden in such an inaccessible spot and one with such dramatic and breathtaking vistas just there for the taking (looking). You have done a wonderful job of it. How long has it taken to build you house and fashion your garden? I can only imagine how truly awesome it must be to sit out on your terrace or gazebo and gaze over what nature has produced for free (no cost or labor) and then look also at your addition to the scene. Must be wonderful.

    I know exactly what you mean about never running out of ideas for changes and additions----planning and implementation provide never ending pleasure.

  10. tractor1 11/13/2012

    And I thought I lived rural. There seems to be not another soul around. There looks to be a lot of interesting plants but no people, it must get lonely.

  11. olympic_mtn_gardener 11/13/2012

    I also would like to say 'thank you' for reaching out across the world and sharing your garden. The photos here and on your website are stunning. Your descriptions are so vivid and poetic that one can almost feel what it would be like to visit your garden and your happy family. I hope that you continue to send photos and beautiful words to Michelle for us all to enjoy!

  12. HappyHerself 11/13/2012

    Thank you! I very much appreciate your letting me experience your beautiful and welcoming alpine garden. I enjoyed reading and seeing everything you put on your website. What a splendid garden home you have created with your vision, effort, and local materials. As I looked at each photo and read through your descriptions and information, I felt the peacefulness of your garden and was reminded of a song that includes the thought, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." There is peace in your garden. You are triumphing over challenges of climate and terrain to create peace and serenity. You are inspiring me to make more effort to turn my little piece of home ground into a more welcoming place of peace and serenity.

  13. sheila_schultz 11/13/2012

    Ali... as you have touched so many that read about the beautiful gardens around the world, you have touched me. Your feelings and words that describe life around you warms my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful part of your life with gardeners so far away. Your wife is a very lucky woman to have such a kind man to spend her life with...

  14. pattyspencer 11/14/2012

    I totally loved looking at your garden - thank you for sharing it with us

  15. Peg_McCann 11/14/2012

    What fun to see plants I know in southern Michigan in such a foreign place!

  16. alimolla 12/01/2012

    Dear friends,
    I take the pleasure to express my appreciations to all those lovely people who supported me especially Ms. Michelle Gervais that decided to publish some excerpts of my photo-essay in her high ranking site of 'Fine Gardening' under 'Ali's mountainside garden in Iran' heading on Nov.13, 2012; thereby sharing it with innumerable gardening enthusiasts world- over amongst whom 230+ keen gardeners positively displayed their interests in the post.
    Also, my particular gratitude to those 15 respectful and knowledgeable gardening patrons who presented their gorgeous comments; their thoughts of mind and feelings of heart which I cordially received and read repeatedly and deemed as their valuable, unprecedented rewards. In short, I got totally fascinated and could not envisage any feedback more precious and motivating.
    Hope to be back to you soon.

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