By Jodi Torpey
A private retreat hidden among tall trees: a reality for some gardeners — just a dream for others. But if you have a good imagination, you can create a secret garden wherever you live.
Take a look around your yard. Think outside the window box to find a secluded spot you can transform with seating and plants. That empty spot next to the garage could become your new favorite sitting area — especially if you increase the seclusion with an arbor.
If you have a large, empty area, a row of tall columnar evergreens can add instant privacy. Arborvitaes, right, change a bare fence into a beautiful green wall. Junipers can do the same — and be less tempting to deer.
Tall deciduous shrubs or trees, like a hedge of privet, also can provide privacy during summer, when you spend more time outside. After the plants shed their leaves in winter, they let the sun shine in for more light during the darker months.
Tightly woven lattice, in red cedar or a durable vinyl, offers instant results. You can make one yourself or have the sections cut to size. Whichever screen you choose, make sure it’s well secured so it doesn’t go flying with the first big gust of wind.
For smaller spaces, a simple stand-alone screen can make the garden feel more like an outside room. If you plant fast-growing vines, such as clematis or Virginia creeper, you can cover the screen in no time. Other ornamental climbers include trumpet vine, climbing honeysuckle, or an annual such as morning glory.
Even a tiny space on a pocket-size patio or apartment balcony can be secluded from the outside world. For the best hideaway, gather a few colorful containers and fill them with tall or bushy plants. Good choices include stunning tropical plants with large leaves such as caladiums and cannas.
If you have a nice collection of indoor plants, move them outside during warm weather. Give plants time to acclimate to their new environment: Keep them in shade for a few days, then gradually increase the amount of sunlight they receive. Make sure the sun isn’t too harsh for tender leaves used to growing indoors. Move plants back inside when nighttime temperatures start to cool off.
Once plants are in place, set up your chaise longue or bistro table and chairs, then sit back and enjoy the view.