Somewhere in Iraq-
It appears that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein doesn't just have skills as a tyrannical dictator. The former threat to the free world has revealed his knack for gardening. Hussein's lush garden now adorns his undisclosed detention facility and will be featured in next month's edition of Better Palaces and Oases.
The magazine's Chief Garden Editor Akmed Al-Jihad was invited to visit Hussein's garden after word of the beautiful menagerie was leaked by impressed prison officials.
"I had to undergo rigorous security procedures before being transported to the prison. They rubbed camel dung in ears and then I was spun around in circles twelve times clock-wise and twelve times counter clock-wise before being driven a few blocks to Hussein's secure compound. But when I saw the garden -Allah be praised - it was more beautiful than the storied hanging gardens of Babylon."
So taken was Al-Jihad that he returned with a cadre of staff photographers to rush the article into next month's issue. Some of the photographers buckled under the humiliating treatment and were given the rest of day off to home to collect themselves. Those who made it were treated to the wonders of Hussein's handiwork.
Al-Jihad recounted the splendor, "The gardens were beautifully laid out, with date palms, flowers, fountains, statuary, and even a hedge maze."
Staff were allowed to photograph the gardens for 90 minutes. In the mean time Al-Jihad sat down with the former despot for an interview. Highlights are featured in the magazine's popular how-to column, "Green Thumbin' With Akmed."
"When I arrived, the compound was all just clay and sand. It was pathetic. I have always made gardens a priority in all my palaces - I did all my own gardening, I bet you didn't know that. Anyway, the pig-dog infidels let me out of my cell for two 60 minute breaks a day and an extra 30 minutes on Fridays, so I had to work fast. I drew lines in the sand and then got to work."
Al-Jihad asked how Hussein got the plants and the garden tools to create such beauty.
"The dung-eating infidels allow me three pieces of mail a day. My despot pen-pals know of my penchant for gardening and sent seeds to get me started. Once the guards saw my garden take shape, they gave me a hand shovel and a some gloves. But my secret to a beautiful garden? I use my own urine. It works wonders on the shrubbery."
Security officials allowed the toppled despot to decorate his garden with a few of the recently removed statues of himself that now litter the countryside.
"I am especially proud of the flower beds around the statue of me using my saber to slay a camel's ass-licking infidel" boasted Hussein.
Better Palaces and Oases hits newsstands next month.