July 15, 2007

My little urban patio garden

My patch of Eden is a little urban patio garden hidden from public view by a tall picket fence.

I never planned on having or making a garden. One of the many reasons I bought a condominium and not a house was my habit to shun mowing, planting, weeding, watering, and grounds maintenance of any kind. I lack the required inclination.

And yet the patio garden was a key factor in choosing this condominium and none of the dozens Judy, my agent, showed me as I entered the dreaded second year of The Hunt. In this patch of Eden, almost instantly, I felt a peaceful calm and a refuge from the chaos lurking beyond its enclosing picket fence.

If you are petite like me, when you are inside the garden and look outside, you see nothing but the deep shades of green of old trees — part of Atlanta's lush vegetation, the reason Georgia's capital is called City in the Park.

Within days of moving into my new home, I transformed the bland patio, turning it into my little urban patio garden. Between unpacking boxes and settling in, I replaced the thin patches of thirsty grass with cedar chips (two bags, medium-size chips) and slate tiles (three, randomly placed). Next, I dotted areas lacking them with perennials (lily-like green-and-white hostas, long fleshy-stemmed purple Wandering Jews [the plant kind], as examples).

Over the years, try as I might, when I sit on the bench enjoying cool evening breezes or bask in sunny spring warmth, I cannot read even the best book. Oh, I progress a few lines . . . and then, I eye a pot that requires leveling or a vine that needs a trim.

I snoop around a lot, looking for signs of rot or bug infestation. I might decide to replant one of the six-pack specials I bought, ever seeking the perfect resting place for each unit. And, of course, during droughts (such as the one this summer), despite my pre-garden pledge to shun watering, I hose down my little Eden between midnight and 10 AM, even days only (because my unit number is even: 1332).

Indoors, curiosity draws my cat and me to the windows. We gaze on the garden with quick looks or hunker down for longer stretches. We are waiting for them. And whether they arrive on feet, wings, or belly, garden guests delight and fascinate.

Each day (and some nights), seated on a child's chair beside the front door, Mica (mee-kah) studies the scene indoors, and then turns to peer through the window alongside the door, scanning for possibilities to ponder outside.

Sometimes, when she needs another view — the
better to study her sightings, Mica switches to her
lookout perch on the kitchen windowsill.

What is the payoff for her (and my) patient vigil?

A multicolored bird . . .

A golden butterfly . . .

A brown (sometimes iridescent blue-green) lizard . . .

A chipmunk at attention . . .

And another chipmunk. (Maybe it's the same
one? How would I know?)

No matter the season or time of day or night, seven years after moving here, I harvest continuously from my Eden bountiful relief and abundant comfort.

Like my garden, I grow. Always changing. Never finished.


littlepurplecow said...

I love your use of the word "harvest" here and the fact that serenity is just beyond the front door.

Stefan said...

beautiful beautiful beautiful!!

thanks for giving this insight view!

lovely. i d love to visit! :-)

cheers from vienna

Anonymous said...

It's so like you to take something small and common, something that everyone else ignores, and see the beauty of it.

Madeline said...

So many creatures! I love the chipmunk at attention, and the cat's post where she can see in and out easily from one spot. When I used to have indoor cats they would shake like crazy when watching birds through the window.

Tamar Orvell said...

littlepurplecow — I agree about serenity's abode as "just beyond the front door." Ideally, it's also inside the front door... and, most ideally, inside every creature. Yes, I know, sounds like an eschatological dream or a fantasy-prayer-painting such as Hicks' "Peaceable Kingdom."

stefan — You know Atlanta's airport is the largest, busiest in the USA (and, I think, the world). So, book your flight now! Neshikot u-l'hitraot bekarov [kisses and see you soon]!

anonymous — well... I'm small and common, so why not call attention to the likes of me?;-) Thank you for helping me all these years to notice beauty in the midst of chaos, which I can't always get beyond without your coaching.

madeline — I love to imagine what made that chipmunk all-but salute. Was it about vigilance... as a cost of living? And did your shaking cats also emit growling sounds from worlds we will never experience?

Anonymous said...

Finally had a chance to look up your blog - and read about your little garden. I loved it. You are such a good observer!!

ute (in Frankfurt)

Anonymous said...

great post. I would love to follow you on twitter.