This spring we decided to convert our back patio (the walkout from our basement level which is enclosed by a wooden fence) into a "Secret Garden." The girls love the story of the Secret Garden and this one is truly secret since it is not visible from the street but only from inside the house. It is right off our home schooling area and though it is a very small space, probably 3 feet by 5 feet, we thought a few pots of herbs and some hanging pots of flowers would fit into the space nicely.
To get inspired and ready for our gardening, we made a trip to a big home improvement store, and were just amazed at the garden section! So many choices! So many beautiful flowers and thriving plants! Wow, you could really spend a lot of money on landscaping! Thankfully we didn't need too many things, since our space is so small. But we still walked away with five hanging baskets and five potted plants!
The first task was to clean out some of the "junk" that was there and make the space ready. We did some organizing in our storage space in the basement so that John's bike and the grill, which were both previously stored outside in that space, could fit inside instead. We pulled some weeds (there is a cement slab in the middle but dirt around the perimeter) and then laid down some pretty white rock over the dirt, to prevent more weeds. Next John drove several shepherd's hooks into the ground and we were able to also hang an iron bar from the fence to hang a bird feeder on. We thought it would be wonderful to be able to attract some birds to our little secret garden.
Finally all was ready and we started to place the flowers. Two baskets of purple wave petunias, two of varicolored impatiens, and a strawberry plant quickly took their places hanging from shepherd's hooks. The pots of mint, parsley/oregano, basil, rosemary, and a tomato plant were then added. The sights and smells were a true transformation of that little space! I haven't taken any pictures yet, but I'll have to do that soon!
Everything bloomed well for awhile but now some of the plants haven't been blooming as profusely; I think I need to do a little fertilizing. Any suggestions on this?
I also have to report the demise of the bird feeder. Initially we had bought a pretty cheap bird feeder, intending just to try it out and see if we could get some birds to come and eat. But you know who came instead? Yes, big, fat, greedy squirrels. One morning John went downstairs rather early and found a fat, happy squirrel perched on what was left of the feeder--the squirrel had managed to break the feeder apart, spill the majority of the seed, and then was eating up the evidence. John shooed him away and we cleaned up the mess, determining that we needed a different, squirrel-proof feeder.
I found a new one that was supposedly squirrel proof not long after, and was eager to try it. For about a week we gawked in delight as the birds came, shyly at first and then more confidently, to have a little snack just a few feet from our window. Unfortunately, they also made a mess--spilled seed, cracked some seeds and spit out the hulls, and pooped on the other flowers out there. We were mostly attracting sparrows, and then we noticed that the sparrows started to get greedy too--6-8 of them would come at once and fight each other for the spots to feed. The spilled seed was really making a mess in that small space, and I was having to sweep up every day from the silly birds! The final straw was when we refilled the feeder and within two days, it was mostly gone or spilled from the feeder, and still not a different bird in sight except for the sparrows. So, we made the tough decision to remove the bird feeder and let the birds go back to fending for themselves. It was just too small of a space to have birds occupying it too. So, farewell sparrows! It was fun while it lasted!
Our secret garden (complete with a lock on the inside of the wood fence) has already brought great delight to us all, and I've especially enjoyed picking fresh basil, rosemary and mint to use in recipes. And, now we all have a bit more motivation to spend time in the home school room, with such a lovely view in front of us! Clara Anne has even gone out there on occasion for her reading time. I'm thankful for our quiet little garden spot, and hope that I'll be able to keep everything thriving and healthy. The girls love their watering responsibilities and take it very seriously to care for the plants. Next time I'll show some pictures of the Secret Garden!