Many of us have a particular place we think best and where we feel whole. I have always been most comfortable in my garden. I can remember all of my past gardens. When I was five years old, I lived across the street from Mr. Mitchell. His entire backyard was a lathe house where he grew topical plants and had water gardens. Moss and ferns flourished. I can see it in my mind’s eye now 5o years later. I often wonder if that is what turned me into a life long gardener and lover of landscapes.
Everywhere I have lived I have been hyper aware of my garden and the light in my house through windows looking out into my garden. 541 and 554 Gower Street, my balcony in Newport Beach, my apartment on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, my first home on Granville Avenue and now my garden in the Santa Ynez Valley. The living, growing buffer zones protecting my house and my psychological space are important to my life and wellbeing. These are not the only places I have lived but they are the ones that provided gardens for my dreams and memory. A residence without a garden, no matter how small, wouldn’t be a place for me to live for long.
I need to plant my environment to a standard allowing me to sit and feel my soul mellow and calm and echo those feelings and dreams that matter most, the ones that put warmth in my heart and soul. When my daughter Daisy lived in Brooklyn, I helped her to create an environment rekindling the warmth of the gardens she grew up with, giving her advice about her potted plants, walking together through Central Park and Prospect Park, all to share and extend my garden dreaming.
Daisy and her new husband Greg are now living in Los Angeles in a home with a little scrap of a garden. I often make deliveries to Southern California with its requisite concrete driveways and parking areas. First thing I did was take them some pots planted with huge bamboo and some espaliered citrus and created a private and comfortable patio, instantly. When I spend the night with them, I rise early to return to Eye of the Day, but not before I water their garden, picking weeds, harvesting lettuce, or just tending to the orange and lemon trees.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Harper