A Secret Garden

My deck is a small square space in the back of the second floor of our home. The entrance is through the living room into the playroom. Suddenly the door opens into an open patio, sky and sun above it, with a view into all the small quiet backyards on this block. You could almost miss it.

For a half of the year, the patio lies unused. It’s too cold and stark. But come spring, the air turns softer, and suddenly the patio turns inviting. It’s cool and shady in the morning. Full, bright sun in the afternoon. Even more alluring in the late afternoon. The patio faces the setting sun which is hidden behind cliffs and buildings, but at twilight the sky lights up in a golden, bewitching, almost magical, way. The air stands suspended, as though something was about to unfold.

Each spring I think – I won’t spend as much time and money on plants for the deck as I did last year. There will be cold spells, vacations with no water for the thirsty plants, violent thunderstorms, big winds that uproot…. but this year, as I do each year, I feel I’ve figured out the right plants for our deck and me – I am sure they will survive my erratic watering habits, my peripatetic behavior, my love of travel.

I make multiple trips to the gardening store and fill the small space with colorful glazed and unglazed clay pots and all the plants I’ve grown to love over the years – petunias, geraniums, marigolds, hibiscus, rose, dahlia, ranunculus, trailing vinca vines, a one pot herb garden. I love mixing and matching into container pots. There is always an explosion of soil and dirt. Both children and now the dog, eager helpers in procurement and planting.

The patio starts looking cosier. I linger with my morning cup, my one-skillet lunch bowl, my afternoon tea. When friends are here, a whole tray with sweet and savory goods and an oversized pot of tea. Often an entire Saturday lunch brought outside and eaten under the red umbrella with the boys.

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