Secrets, in the open

Last summer, I bought a house.  I moved into it in August, having seen the place first in mid-February, then in late March.  By the time I moved in, the long-neglected garden was a tangle of fading green, with dozens of plants in it that gave no clue what they were.  The only thing I was sure of was a circle of flowering cherry, in bloom when I first laid eyes on the place, and the stunning trumpet vine, wrapping the front patio, climbing trees, turning a mature oak into a trumpet tree.  Also, I could tell that someone in the past had put a great deal of thought and effort into it.

Partly because I’ve been working 70 hour weeks since October, and partly because a garden, like a house, needs to be lived with for a calendar year before an owner has any clue how it works, I’ve done little out there except direct various helping hands towards the worst of the neglect.  Last week we had a trio of bonfires to reduce a mountain of cuttings and removals to circles of ash.

It is now, in this part of the country anyway, spring.  Overnight, dozens of buckeyes (the native chestnut) have burst into green, their heavy buds a promise of white flowers.  The half-dead vines on the arbors below the deck are showing a tentative response to a half-year of care.   Drab patches of the hillside suddenly burst into color as an unsuspected shrub delivers a surprise.

One of the things I loved most about the house was the dark overgrown area near the entrance, a promise of secrets at odds with the front of the house itself—which is right on the drive, has paved parking up to the blunt, ordinary looking front wall, is covered with an ugly façade of cheap siding painted the world’s dullest color of grey-blue, and has an assortment of hideous, heavily weathered, dark-maroon (!) awnings over the windows.

World’s least interesting face; a dim and secret garden to one side; a jungle hidden just inside the front door; a view across half the world from the back.  A house that had been neglected, mistreated, and used to grow certain cash crops, with dicey plumbing and startling touches of beauty.

A house with a mysterious past and continuing secrets.

Appropriate, perhaps?

house view

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  1. Barb on March 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Sounds like you have found a wonderful treasure. I’m sure the house and grounds are pleased to be in the hands of someone who will love and care for them. Have fun.

  2. sally tibbetts on March 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    being a gardener myself I see where you’re coming from…but what treasures uncovered and new things to be found. It’s lots of work but so rewarding in the end. Sounds like a perfect house to write all about Sherlock’s world.

  3. Mary Beth on March 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    A reason to look forward to spring, Laurie!!! It sounds like the perfect setting for a novel!

  4. Hannah on March 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I could not imagine something more enticing for a lover of history and religions, and a writer of mysteries. Perhaps, sometimes, you need someone/thing else to provide the mysteries? Rejuvenates the soul!

  5. Christine on March 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Very appropriate for you to live in a house with a mysterious past. Keep the uninteresting face and have fun bringing the mistreated house and grounds into a more harmonious state!

  6. Artemisia on March 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    It is your mission to save this garden! You will need professional help! And get paint immediately!

  7. Peggy Mitchell on March 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    The house is probably breathing a sigh of great relief. Thank you for that truly beautiful post, it made my day.

  8. A Fan of Deduction on March 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Sounds like how my moms first reaction was to the weeds that grow to the side of our home, haha she flipped sky high when she saw all the weeds, and then had a killing spree worth of weed killer haha

  9. Mary on March 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I wouldn’t be too terribly surprised if some of those “cash crops” reared their ugly, tall, skinny heads come summer…….. Good luck with the renovations! And please find a place to plant a climbing rose. 🙂

  10. Hanalie on March 10, 2013 at 5:59 am

    So where is Sherlock in this place of mystery and wonder?

  11. Ann DeLaurentis on March 10, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Sounds heavenly, given the time to breathe new life and energy into that garden. But, about that trumpet vine…be careful it doesn’t take over the entire premises. A most ambitious invasive species!!

  12. Hanalie on March 10, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Where is Sherlock in this place of mystery and wonder?

  13. Teresa on March 10, 2013 at 6:59 am

    A house with a mysterious entrance and startling touches of beauty with a view to half the world….definitely appropriate to a writer like you. 😉

  14. Laurie King on March 10, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Since we have no beehive here, I don’t suppose Holmes would find the garden of much interest. But yes, I have help (many strong arms, in fact) and yes, I’ve put in four Banks roses, two white and two yellow. Being evergreen, they’ll help return the secret portion to secrecy.

  15. Melody Kitchens on March 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    what a lovely picture your words paint of your new home. With the arrival of spring you can start to put those personal touches in that will make it your home and not just a neglected house with a questionable history. May God bless you on that journey.

  16. SUDALAI MUTHU on March 11, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    The house is probably breathing a sigh of great relief. Thank you for that truly beautiful post, it made my day.

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