Last night I finally completed a task that I have been struggling to get around to all summer. Well, since last Fall really. I finally hauled all of the planters with dead plants and weeds from my rooftop patio down 5 flights of stairs and to the garbage. By myself. It was hot, tiring, sweaty and dirty and I am proud of myself.
I have lived in my condo for 6 years and I have never managed to get the rooftop patio in a state I am happy with. I live in a rainforest. For 3 months of the year it is hot as Hades on the roof and there is no shade. The rest of the time it is cool and the rain pours down until even the moss grows moss. I’m not sure what kind of plants grow in that kind of environment but nothing I have ever planted has survived.
I have never been able to really get a vision of what the space could be. Plus, the patio is in bad shape – the railing is rusty and the decking needs replacing. But, as the decision on what to do with the rooftop patios is linked to what to do about the aging roof which means the whole building gets to vote, it’s taking time to sort out. I kept thinking that when I get a new patio, I’ll have a vision of how to pull off this tiny rooftop Garden of Eden.
Each year I spend money on new plants, soil and planters, drag everything up there and hope I can pull off the kind of rooftop garden that you see in magazines or on Pinterest. Each year, I try to remember to water each day and usually when I go on holidays everything is dead by the time I get back. I don’t spend much time up there despite the wonderful view. It’s hard to sit up there and relax on a nice summer evening surrounded by all that death and failure.
Last fall, after another summer of wasted money and greenery-turning-brown, I decided I was done. It is my space and if I don’t want to grow stuff in planters, then I don’t have to. If I am a life-giving gardening failure then so be it. Growing plants may be what I’m supposed to do but I am not having fun. And life is too short and comes with enough un-funness on its own that I don’t need to add to it.
Lo and behold, as soon as I mentally swept all the plants and expectations away I suddenly could feel a vision for the space start to emerge. What about some outdoor art? Or sculpture? A stone fountain? Some lanterns or fairy lights? A pile of beach treasures clearly designed by Mother Nature to revel in the sun and the water? I started to find and buy artwork I liked. I started seeing things indoors in my condo that would be perfect outdoors. But first, I had to get rid of all those heavy planters and soil and dead things. By myself.
They say many hands make light work. I’m not sure if that’s true but at least it gives you someone to complain with. Subconsciously, I kept hoping someone would come along to help me with this annoying and difficult task. But, I have company coming this weekend and it’s hot here so if I want a nice space to sit on a summer evening then I had to accept that this task was going to be a one-woman job.
And so, I pulled on my big girl boots and got to work. It took many trips but it got done. And, afterwards I hung some of the art and placed a few items where I think they should be. There is still a lot to do. But, my vision is well on its way to becoming real. I sat up there last night, in its stripped down and clean state, watching the sun set and the stars come out. I saw a few falling stars since the Perseid meteor shower is happening in the night sky here right now. It was peaceful and wonderful and I was happy.
Turns out, all I needed to do was sweep aside what I thought was expected of me so that I could see my own vision. And then put in some of my own hard work to realize it. I’ve got a long way to go still but I’m excited about what the future space will hold.
Outdoor art by Lori Dee of Inside Out Art –
Table with shells and a sky spirit –
Dragon in the sun –
Beach treasures –