If I was a proper gardener then my favourite bit of the garden, where I often sit to read, write or sew, would have a fancy name. Monty Don's garden has places like 'The Jewel Garden' or 'The Writing Garden' and I have tried to emulate him. Really I have, but the trouble is that calling it 'The Side Return' or 'The Shade Garden' or even 'The Sunken Garden' just seems pretentious when, to be honest, it's an odd spot that it took me years to work out how to use.
It's in the shade from about half past ten even in the height of summer. It's surrounded by house walls on three sides and when this terraced house was the height of modern luxury when it was built somewhere around 1886, it was the route to the coal hole and the outside loo. (We still have both; and very useful they are too, especially in these Covid days when you want to be cautious about who comes indoors.) It's quite narrow and only a limited range of plants survive there, and fewer still flourish.
Despite all that it's my favourite spot. In summer, I put up a fly screen with a beach side picture on it and leave the back door open because it's so close to the kitchen that I can be inside in seconds if anyone wants or needs me. It's sheltered from the wind and I don't have to worry about the effects of sitting in the sun. I can bring my laptop out and still get wifi, and put my sewing and a cool drink on the table as long as the cat doesn't want to snooze on it.
After years as a carer I've learned to 'knit my own respite' , so this little spot is very precious to me.Ten minutes out here is enough to recharge my batteries and remind me how lucky I am in so many ways even when the world around me seems to be unkind and an hour is pretty close to paradise. I think we all need places like this; and to accept that happiness needn't come from great big grand places or spending a lot of money. You can start small; as I did and still am in my garden where almost everything has been grown from seed or plug plants. Then you get to gloat while you watch your dreams growing into reality, and every success reminds you that it always starts with a dream, some imagination, and a determination to keep going no matter how many things seem to be going wrong all around you. As for my failures? In the garden, I can compost them so they'll feed my successes, and that gives me hope for things that go wrong in the rest of my life.