We are very fortunate where we live to have a very large shared garden behind our flat that we can access. One of the benefits of the area of town that we live in is that having access to a shared garden is fairly common. I start to take it for granted sometimes and then am reminded that in other parts of town, you actually have to buy a membership to have access to a garden!
Since our flat is on the upper ground floor, we have a key to the gate around the corner and that is how we get in. The lower ground floor/basement flats typically have doors that lead out to a patio and directly into the garden. It's kind of a trade off in that those flats can be kind of dark, but direct garden access is pretty awesome. If you have kids, it's definitely the way to go.
We've been going out back several times a week since we moved into our new flat and on days it is warm, we spend hours back there. Sometimes all afternoon! It's got wide open spaces and Charlie likes to take his soccer balls, stomp rockets, golf set, baseball glove, etc. out there.
We've met some other moms and dads and kids out in the garden. In fact, we found two other 3 year old boys for Charlie to play with! Lorenzo and Peter, both very sweet and lots of fun. There are kids of all ages out playing when the weather is nice. In addition to Charlie's nursery school, it's been a great way to meet new people.
The most exciting part of the garden right now is the pond. When we first moved in, the pond was filled to the brim with frogs. Frogs procreating. Then it was filled with tadpoles and eggs. Some of the school kids take them into class to show everyone. Apparently there's a heron or a crane that likes to eat them for lunch.
Now we have some new residents of the pond - some ducks! Two mallards and a hen stick around the pond most of the day. I've heard they come each year. One of the mallards has paired off with the hen and I can't figure out why the other mallard sticks around. The mallards mostly fight and the one who scored the lady chases the other one around.
They keep a nest somewhere in the garden, though I haven't seen it. I think that's just as well. I don't want anyone messing it up. I've been told the ducklings should arrive in a few weeks and I bet they'll be so cute!
I've heard there are also quite a few foxes in the garden. One family I met recently lost their cat for several days. It was found by someone in the garden next door and the foxes had gotten it. Poor kitty. Hopefully the other cats are on notice.
There are many cats in the garden and Charlie loves them. It's the closest he will ever get to owning a cat, with his daddy and Nana and other assorted family members allergic to them. There's one cat in particular, Monty, who loves to come play with Charlie. He likes to chase the stomp rockets when we bring that to play with. Here is Charlie with Monty in the flowers:
I usually forget about them, but we also have a bee colony that is kept by a couple of the residents. The hives are behind a chain link fence enclosure, but obviously the bees fly all over. There are usually tons at the pond. They aren't aggressive at all, but I've been told the kids have stepped on them before and been stung, so I try to get Charlie to wear at least socks. I hear in the next few months we should get something in our mailbox asking if we want some honey. I'd say definitely! Yum!
There are several volunteer gardeners who take care of the garden and are frequently out there mulching, planting bulbs, pruning, mowing, etc. They do a really nice job. And mostly I'm happy I don't have to do any of it. Nice to have a break after almost 10 years of constant yard work.
We had a picnic out in the garden last Sunday, though it was a bit hard picnicking on a bench. So I came home and ordered the biggest picnic blanket I could find from John Lewis. It just arrived today, as the weather turned cooler and cloudy, but on the next sunny day, we will try it out!
Here are a few more shots from around the garden. Boring ones with no people, obviously. :)