I've read that the most noteworthy features about the Alhambra garden in Spain is the close relationship between inside and outside spaces. Sylvia Crowe in her book Garden Design writes, "Halls, porticoes, arcades and patios lead one into another. The patios with their fountains, flowers and cypresses are rooms open to the air." That is what I want...open-air rooms at Casa Mercer but probably with a little more chaos than I've seen in pictures of the structured spaces in the Alhambra.
Garden space is limited in Casa Mercer in San Miguel. A small patio with a cistern under it and I don't know how deep that cistern is below the surface. A ugly fountain in a strange location. Beds straight along a wall that are about 18 inches deep. The redeeming feature of this patio is a huge lugustrum tree of some native variety under planted with clivia. Oh, one other item that I like is a potted variegated ficus that has grown into a nice size tree....maybe 8 feet tall. And we have two terraces. One that looks okay and the other, the new terrace that is begging for help.
We have had some plans drawn up for refurbishing the patio but I have procrastinated. Something was just nagging in the back of my mind that this plan was nice but it wasn't quite "right." But I didn't know what to do. I just wasn't inspired or excited. That has changed!
David Little and George Lewis who garden in the Northwest United States and wrote the inspirational book A Garden Gallery: The plants, art and hardscape of Little and Lewis, have bought a place in San Miguel and to facilitate gardening talk they have started a yahoo forum about gardening. I've been meaning to buy their book but finding out they were in San Miguel finally pushed me into ordering it. What an inspirational book! For the first time I'm finally thinking about the patio and terraces beyond just pots of bouganvilleas and geraniums. I'm thinking beyond the usual wall fountain for a water feature. I'm thinking wall colors. And the other exciting thing is that though this forum I'm finding other San Miguel gardeners who have a creative spirit about gardening in San Miguel.
Maybe I will be able to create a garden in the spirit of the Alhambra at Casa Mercer.