Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life on the patio

My apartment is in the middle of my building which has been designed for my next door neighbor and I to share a patio.  I've never seen my neighbor on the patio, but I try to respect that only half is really mine, but I have edged a little over the halfway mark.  I've tried to turn my share into a little garden.  It's been my pleasure this spring and summer, and despite the brutal heat and humidity, I'm drawn out there multiple times a day.  There are times when I may be outside for only a few minutes at a time, but a few minutes of pleasure several times a day makes a big difference in a life.

On one end of the patio is a window box.  It's technically against the condo regulations, but I didn't put it there, and when the manager found out I'd already planted in it, I didn't have to take it down.  I filled it with white pansies, purple violas and English ivy.  The violas didn't hold up to this brutal summer, but the pansies were hardier than their wimpy name.  I've enjoyed their blossoms for months.

Next to the window box is a cast iron planter that my mom used since I was a little girl.  It was black but has developed a wonderful patina.  Mint had almost taken over a border in my sister's yard, and she was going to rip it all out. I helped myself and filled my mother's planter.

Across from it is a large terra cotta pot filled with three different types of caladiums, white, red and variegated.  I love their shape, colors and how they draw my eye away from the air conditioning unit stuck in the wall.

I have faux french doors that lead to the patio.  (Only one opens, thus the faux.) I placed a baker's rack in front of the one that doesn't open.  On the top shelf are pots of basil, dill and rosemary.  The heat has made my basil rather limp and pale, but I'm trying to nurse it back to health.  The fragrance, particularly on a humid night, is heavenly, and I can't go out on the patio with gently caressing the rosemary and the mint.

On the shelf below it is a pot of chives.  It reminds me of the hair of a troll doll.  When I haven't minded smelling oniony, I've gathered it into a point just for a bit of silly entertainment.  There's also a pot of cilantro. I might have made too much salsa.  The heat might have gotten to it.  I may have underestimated its water needs, but it's down to one little stem with a few pale leaves.  I'm determined to nurse it back to health.

My flowers are on the shelf below that.  Yellow and red striped petunias fill a bowl shaped container.  They were nearly destroyed by the heat, but I got out my scissors and cut back every non-producing stem with wilted leaves back to about two inches.  They've leafed out again and produced three blooms.  There was one long stem that never quit blooming, and I couldn't bear to cut it back. It's crooked and scraggly, but it's still blooming, and that keeps it safe from my scissors.

I use the bottom shelf for supplies, a bag of potting soil, my watering pot and trowel.  I keep those hidden with a large pot of purslane and a "take this home" funeral basket.  Like most of those baskets, it's over stuffed.  There's a palm of some sort, a mother-in-law's tongue, a philodendron, a peace lily, a prayer plant, something spiky, and something resembling a philodendron.  The basket came from the funeral of my brother-in-law's son, my nephew.  I only met him once.  The basket only served to remind my brother-in-law of the funeral, the occasional consequence of "take this home" gifts.  I'm tending this plant to honor a life cut short too soon.  A lot of people consider purslane a weed, but I love how it trails, its morning blooms, and how it's edible.  I haven't tried it yet, but that time will come.

Beside the baker's rack I have two patio rockers and a small table.  On the table is an angelonia with deep purple flowers.  I just had to have the color.  In front of the table is a sago palm. Watching the new leaves grow from a row of tightly curled balls on a silvery stem to spiky deep green leaves has deepened my sense of wonder at the world.

This is my little haven.  I sit out there in the mornings, drink my coffee and read.  It's where I go out for a smoke.  I had to give up my animals when I moved.  I miss them badly, but life demands hard choices sometimes.  I've found that I need to care for something living, and my little garden lets me do that.  It's the place where I feel the most me.


Blogger Nelle said...

I wondered what happened to your animals when you moved. So glad you are enjoying your new home and small garden. I took on too much this year...the watering is a lot. Having trouble with my hose that goes in the front leaking from a faucet that was stupidly put in the garage.

July 24, 2012 10:56 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Sorry you have to give up your animals but glad you have made a wonderful place for yourself.

July 29, 2012 9:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Give up on the cilantro. That is just what it does. It thrives in late spring and early summer, and craps out in the heat of midsummer. Had the same problem here, and that is what the folks at the nursery told us.

Otherwise, your patio sounds like a wonderful little haven. Wish I could sit with you and enjoy a glass of wine...or a julep?

July 30, 2012 11:57 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Lisa, I'd love it.

July 31, 2012 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Graphix said...

You should return on writting new articles!

April 30, 2013 5:46 AM  
Anonymous seethroughfaith (Lorna) said...

sounds lovelya

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