My parents live in Chicago, on the North side of the city. They still live in the same house I grew up in, a stately white and black Cape Cod built in 1935, with a garden that is huge for city standards.
It feels like a secret garden to my children and me. There are so many different spaces to hide, so many things to see. In summer you can hear the drone of locusts and see the glowing neon flashes of fireflies at night. In winter the snow blankets the pine branches and arbor like frosting. Sure you can hear the occasional roar of planes from O’Hare Airport overhead, and an ambulance, police car or two. But it is those sounds I grew up with and actually miss at my quiet suburban Atlanta home.
The garden has elements from when the house was built, and my parents have been cultivating it since they moved in almost 40 years ago.
The milkman used to deliver milk bottles through this little compartment at the back of the house..
These pines were planted when the home was built 78 years ago..
The grapevines and arbor are original as well..
Can you find the dove in these photos? Her nest is on top of the arbor in the vines..
My mother has a way of making each space unique and special. She added this Chinese stool under the arbor..
She also created what she likes to call a “reflection garden” in a shady spot next to the screened terrace. The Buddha statue must have attracted new life because birds dropped seedlings and different species of pines just grew around him. There is also a little monument in honor of Cleo, our family Dalmatian. My mother added the begonias for color, and they are thriving in the dappled light..
I love this huge planter with cannas in it. My parents’ neighbor was moving and it was so heavy, they just rolled it over to their house for them to keep..
This pine tree started as a pine cone, planted by my brother and my grandfather probably 30 years ago. When it was a seedling, my Dad moved it to a better spot. Now it towers above the garden..
My parents’ garden is a little piece of paradise in the city. I feel so fortunate that we can still share it with my children, hopefully for years to come. When the day arrives that we will have to part ways with it, I will close my eyes, listen to the wind chimes and hear the doves cooing, and be right back there again.