Monday, October 11, 2010

We’re back on the sidewalk

I love interior courtyards, especially when they allow just the tiniest peak in for passers by. The idea there’s a garden hidden inside the building starts my mind racing, imagining fabulous intimate landscapes tucked away where we can’t see them.

Some of my favorite memories of walking the streets in Milan were the quick stolen glances into an interior courtyard. Courtyards seemed the norm in that city. We quickly realized when a car pulled up to a closed door if we slowed down and timed our pace just right we could watch the door open and spend a few minutes ogling the garden within. Sometimes a door would be open as we walked by and I couldn’t help but take a few steps inside to check things out (much to my husband’s horror).So on a walk one afternoon here in Portland I was very excited to notice this little courtyard just barely visible beyond the open door. I had to take a closer look.

A pair of Tatting ferns were tucked just inside the main door.
Simple perfection.
Oh how I wanted the interior door to magically open so I could step inside.
But it was not to be. I had to be content peaking through the wire.
Back out on the substantial front porch Lila look advantage of the water droplets collected on the Hydrangea blossom. They were bent under the weight of the water but after she drank her fill they popped upright again.
I could imagine myself enjoying coffee here in the morning, and wine in the evening, watching the neighbors stroll by.
Ok time to walk on. I’ve trespassed long enough.
Another day in another part of town I discovered this stove full of Sempervivum and Sedum.
Up close I could see there were tiny treasures tucked in the back, and a horse-shoe on top. Unfortunately all the good luck had spilled out.
In the same yard a sidewalk shrine (altar?). Items collected included batteries, bottle caps, a key, coins and of course candles.
There was a cat guarding a rock collection.
And more statuary under a mossy tree, which was strung with tiny lights.
The rewards for taking a walk are many.


  1. You always share the neatest ideas! Oh, and I have to admit: I lack your bravery in the trespassing dept. One time I got lost in the woods at the local university and emerged on the training fields amongst the Patriots as they were gearing up for the superbowl here in Jacksonville. The cops were upon me like flies, and unfortunately I was carrying an SLR camera and surplus military equipment, AND covered in mud. Eventually they bought my story and I was free to go. You can't make this stuff up!

  2. The sidewalk shrine is wonderful. It is very spontaneous looking, which I love.

  3. Hi Loree, I love the rusty stove! My hubby is the same way when I linger longer than he deems polite. He doesn't understand our DNA.

  4. Another of those his/hers traits that seem to be universal.
    Shrines like that are everywhere in Thailand.
    Thanks for taking us with you on your walk.

  5. I'm another big courtyard fan. Went on holiday to Cordoba in Spain a couple of years back and every house has it's own courtyard, which are usually colourful decorated. We also have a big one at work which we are in the process of designing a garden for.

  6. RFG, omg...that is a good story! If it hadn't been so open, and so close to the sidewalk I wouldn't have done it. Or if it had been a private home rather than an apartment (or condo?) building. The way I see it I could have been visiting one of the tenants!

    Les, and I bet ever-changing!

    Grace, that stove has YOU written all over it.

    ricki, glad to hear I am in good company with you and Grace.

    Evelyn, thank you!

    Spiky O, I would love a courtyard at our house...lucky you having one at work. I hope they are listening to your plant advice.


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