We bought our house just over a year ago. The grass had been regularly cut and some intentionally planted verdure could be spotted dotting the yard. We even spied a rhubarb plant that now seems to be flourishing. Too bad we don’t like rhubarb!

Our garden, however, remains at the very end of our list. Exterior beauty and property value is just not as important as making the interior a liveable space. There are radiator pipes to install, water pipes to connect, electrical wires to run through the walls, and walls to be sanded. The furniture is perpetually coated in a thin layer of  dust, despite my best attempts to clean on a regular basis. Our living room is unpenetrable and the armchairs are stacked up one on top of the other; the living room is a glorified storage locker.

So with trying to make the interior a space in which I can receive guests and pass around hors d’œuvres, like the ’50s housewife that lives within me wants to do, we neglect the exterior to the point that it has become rather wild. Stinging nettles grow knee high and leave me longing for the soft, clean Saint Augustine grass my bare feet delighted in when I was in Florida. Weeds are rampant. I can’t even mow the grass because it’s so full of other stuff.

But nestled in this chaos of mauvaises herbes is a little vegetable garden, desperately trying to grow amidst the invasion. I do not give it the care it deserves, but if last year’s zucchini is any indication, nature will take care of everything with very little need for my intervention.

On the other side of our rickety workshop is what I like to call the orchard. The towering, weather-beaten, wooden garage and an unruly hedge had conspired together to prevent the orchard from getting any sunlight. The fruit trees grew high over the years in a struggle to obtain what little sunlight they could. Since acquiring the house, we have removed the hedge completely, allowing the trees more light and more air. We have also trimmed the trees, as fruit trees should not be as tall as these are. We have plums, quetches, cherries, apples, pears, and a brand-new apricot tree in front of the house with five little fuzzy apricots pushing out from its branches.

In the many years since this house had last been inhabited, the trees grew their own fruit, dropped it, and grew it again next year. Since we haven’t been meticulously caring for the yard, the bulb-based flowers that had been unceremoniously mowed with the rest of the grass and weeds by the previous owners have since grown and flowered.

Amid the weeds and general unruliness of my garden lies true beauty and order, my own secret garden. Sometimes, doing just a little bit of cleaning can bring the best results — the fruits of my minimal labor now thrive.


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