Amongst the terraced olive groves, pine-forested hills, and craggy rock outcroppings, I had many choice “secret gardens” to which I retreated for reading or just to be alone. Alone time was quite hard to come by in our bustling household of five children!

Any backyard, patio, or balcony can have many secret gardens. However, there are a few essential elements.

1. Make an entrance designated by an arbor, gate, or boulder behind which you can rest.

2. Create curved pathways or hallways out of stepping stones, sidewalks, pebbled meandering paths, or mowed walking trails. You can’t see where the path ends up, but you are urged to find out.

3. Each garden room has its own use and personality: private meditation, barbeque, outdoor eating, reading cubby, or conversation area.

4. Create privacy with latticed screens, a wall of flowering vines, or a collecction of potted plants.

5. Provide seating with mix and match yard sale finds and provide weather protection with shade, an umbrella, or gazebo.

6. Add whimsical “secret garden” decor expressing your personality which could include a water feature, lights, lanterns, pillows, throws, and baskets. Remember that faded is good; it is equal to being well-loved!

7. Add yard art like DIY projects from found items, wrought iron features, or figurines. I have a miniature wrought iron bridge that crosses my dry creek bed.

Most importantly, this is your garden and should reflect your personality while welcoming others to come in and sit a spell.

Where is your retreat?

She’ll lead you down a path

There’ll be tenderness in the air

She’ll come just far enough

So you know she’s there

She’ll look at you and smile

And her eyes will say

She’s got a secret garden

Where everything you want

Where everything you need

Will always stay

A million miles away

Bruce Springsteen

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