This is the side yard of my house. It's been fairly neglected aside from a few shrubs planted along the house and front fence. This summer Central Texas is experiencing record rainfall, a blessing after years of drought. Yards are once again green, shrubs are flowering, and trees are spreading.
Wanting to take advantage of the life-giving rain, I've decided to give this often-ignored corner a little TLC. Inspired by a video posted on Facebook recently of a family who transformed their backyard into a secret garden for their young daughter, I grabbed by garden shovel and set to work.
The images conjured from my readings of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden are significantly more elaborate, flowering, and well...secret than what I may be able to accomplish in this one summer, but I do believe one can, and should, allow themselves to have lofty, romantic goals.
Once my existing garden area was cleaned up and weeded, I dug up a new section along the side fence. Needing a few new plants and new mulch, I headed over to the local big box home improvement store.
The garden area is almost all heavily shaded, so my plant selections were a bit limited. As I walked among the hibiscus, mandevilla, honeysuckle, and jasmine, I spied a section of rather sad looking plants. Upon closer inspection they were indeed the "clearance" plants. In true "secret garden" spirit, I selected from the neglected plants those that needed shade.
I loaded my plants and several bags of garden mulch into my tiny car and headed home.
Hoping to use the same stepping stones I've used in the past, I search high and low but to no avail. Sadly they are no longer available. I will have to wait until I can find something comparable.
With the plants planted and the mulch laid out, the hard part was behind me.
The new plants were now in the care of mother nature.
Much of our area sits upon a rockbed of limestone. In fact, our house is made of white limestone. I placed a few limestone rocks throughout the garden area for visual interest.
I like the juxtaposition of the delicate plants and the hard, jagged rocks.
Well then, of course, the junker in me started adding a few quirky junk finds. It wouldn't be mine if it didn't have a touch of junk!
The iron sides of an old school desk would serve as "art,"
while thrift store home accessories would be placed randomly about.
I was able to pick up two wooden chairs from an online resale market.
Placed under the shade of our blossoming crepe myrtle, it's become one of my favorite spots to just sit and think.
The final step for phase one of my "secret garden" project is to place silver-plated flatware garden markers near each of my plants.
It's not quite the posh garden that one sees in home and garden magazines, nor the original, literary secret garden, but it's mine.
It was a labor of love, and perhaps after time and some nice weather, it will become all that I envision.
Until then I will continue to search for the perfect stepping stones, a fabulous gate, and my very own key.
For now, how 'bout we get outside and enjoy some sunshine!
All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.