One thing we agree on is that, given that one of the pleasures of living in the historic center is how the indoor and outdoor blend, the courtyard is an essential part of our future home. Interior air flow is a very second consideration, but first is the garden. Color schemes and decorative motifs are way down the list. We like almost every style we’ve seen anyway, so it makes sense to let those decisions flow from our initial plans to enjoy foliage and to welcome whatever breezes nature deigns to send us.
Reading other blogs, my favorite posts are the ones that simply describe, in loving detail, someone’s daily routine in their small, walled-off piece of the Centro Historico. To me, it’s expat porn — a fetishization of a life very different than mine. One day, this blog will have a “putterings” category too. The notario is working on it, but that’s another story.
One place we’ve stayed is run by a very clever, knowledgeable gardener. She knew the kinds of plants to use in certain corners of her yard, maximizing native, thriving greenery and minimizing maintenance. Some are potted, some are in soil along a path, and all have a function, creating either screening, shade or softening the architecture. We’ve learned this north of the border, where we have a large plot of land. She even keeps an army of turtles to help keep pests at bay. Bats and owls are also in residence, but never overwhelm the space. She likes to point out how impractical a lot of other courtyard designs are, especially ones created only to look good on a real estate advertisement.
After years of fighting deer, skunks and groundhogs, we finally have a garden that makes sense. I don’t feel we sacrificed any beauty by working with, not against, nature. Some plants had to be moved around to find their happy places. We only accomplished this by finding a zen-minded gardener who knew how to create successful, rather than showy, garden designs. In Mérida, we’ll have to find someone like that.
We’re also happy that our courtyard will be a lot smaller than our backyard here. And with high walls, not just hedges or shrubbery to mark off our property lines. In the city, you’re lucky to have a flower box. I’ve always envied townhouse owners with their small courtyards. The sense of having a defined space, your own definite zone, is appealing because it seems manageable. Whether you’re in Greenwich Village or in the Centro, the feeling must be the same.