Do you have a favorite chair? Is it near a window? Does your dining table sit near a window? Do you enjoy the view from your window?
Oddly, our new house in Greenfield does not have many windows that look out at the garden. Only one upstairs window (in my office) gives a view of the back yard. The kitchen window is too high to see much of anything except the most westerly area of the garden. Fortunately there is the dining room window which looks out onto a section of the South Border, which will ultimately be the most floriferous view.
Last week my husband and I were having dinner and admiring the view of newly blooming roses, I was so happy to have this joyful view. Then I realized that the view from a window is not usually a part of garden planning or design. Yet a view that will please, whether flowery or serene green, can give us hours of pleasure.
I am looking forward to enjoying a better view of my garden. We are about to embark on a kitchen renovation which will not only give me a kitchen where I can cook and bake more easily and efficiently, it will also give me new windows that will allow a fuller view of the garden. The windows will also help define and frame an area I might want to concentrate on as I plan new plantings. They will give me another chance to create a beautiful view from inside the house.
When planning a vignette, a limited view of a small space, you have the advantage that accrues to a small space. You can plant something special that might be quite expensive, but can also be the star of this relatively small space. I’m already thinking about an intersectional peony like Bartzella. Intersectional or Itoh peonies are hybrids of herbaceous and tree peonies. An Itoh peony would be ideal because it would have strong stems that keep the flower heads high and don’t get beaten down in the rain like herbaceous peonies. In addition, because of because its primary and secondary buds, it has a long bloom season.
If flowers are what you long for, but no longer feel up to a whole garden full of demanding flowers, it is still possible to create a flowery view. You might consider an annual bed. Just a few flats of starts will give you a riot of color. I can imagine tall annuals with gentle colors like sweet peas, cleome or cosmos or the brilliant colors of zinnias. These can be fronted with low growing annuals in companionable colors like blue Felicia daisies, pale marguerite daisies, osteospurmums (another daisy-like plant) in shades of pink, purple, blue or white, and salvias.
An annual bed might also be an experimental bed, an opportunity to try out different flowers, colors and flower forms. Starting this kind of bed will not be costly, and will not chain you to a choice, because all the frost-bitten plants will end up in the compost pile at season’s end. Just remember this is an experiment so be sure to keep a few notes so you can repeat the flowers you like next year.
A different way to have flowers in your view is to plan a perennial selection that will give you one or two flowers for each season. For example you could begin with daffodils, then have astilbe, achillea and daylilies. Dahlias have a long season of bloom, especially if you keep cutting them for bouquets. The more you cut, the longer the season and the greater the bloom. Some smaller dahlias will begin blooming in midsummer but you can have dahlias with all their shades of color and form until the first heavy frost. One autumnal choice that surprised me was the Japanese anemone that blooms into the fall. And of course, there are asters and mums, which also have many colors and flower forms.
You could plant for the birds. Perhaps you could have a small tree like a dwarf crabapple near the window along with a bird feeder and a birdbath. An expert birdwatcher once told me that the sound of water is the best way of attracting birds. The tree branches and foliage would give the birds protection and shelter if they became alarmed. My eyesight is such that I really need to be able to get pretty close to birds if I am going to learn to identify them.
In my new garden I am concentrating on having more green than color. Green is not a single color and a green view could include bright shades like golden threadleaf chamaesyparis contrasting with dark green mugo pine. Perennials like hostas are available in dozens of shades of green from brilliant chartreuse to dark green, to blue-green. Variegated hostas will also provide a symphony of greens brightened with shades of white.
Another view could be a piece of art set against shrubs and flowers. I’ve never managed this, but I did get to the point in Heath where I demanded neatness of the view of the backyard. Wheelbarrows, lawn mowers, buckets of weeds, all were forbidden to mar the view of pink, white and green kiwi foliage rambling high on the shed wall above the roses. Serenity was what I wanted with my first cup of coffee in the morning.
So, what view do you have that pleases you? Flowers? Greenery? Statuary?
What view would you like to have? When will you get it? If not now, when?
Between the Rows June 25, 2016
This Post Has 5 Comments
My stepmother planted a “secret garden” behind the shrubs so she could peek out the picture window and see it. I need to take views into consideration when planting. This post was very helpful to get me to THINK before I plant.
Oh so many greens! I love them all! My favorite view is out my front window and includes a little red and white birdhouse on a tall stump located in my front yard on the Deerfield River. Our daughter Laura gave us the birdhouse our first Christmas here and from time to time its being used by some feathered friends.
I do tend to plant all the plants I really like in the view point out my patio doors. I sit in front of these doors a lot during inclement weather, which is all winter and during the heat of summer. So the plants out this view are some of my favorites. There is a lot of foliage color summer/winter. There is repeat colors. A gardening friend once noticed this and asked if this was on purpose. ha.. Why yes said I. I have a couple of places of water for the birds, feeders, and a bit of art. The artsy things are mostly in other places.
I would really like to fill my whole yard with fruits and vegetables perennials. If only to not have to mow the grass, haha. I may need to place perennial flowers in the front so that my property value does not go down.
This directly addresses my next garden design project — to create a garden outside the big window wall of my new bedroom. I’m busy thinking about how to design this so that it is pleasing both from the window and the walkway that is on the other side of the flower bed. A very interesting challenge. In her book, The Inward Garden, Julie Moir Messervy recommends thinking about the view out a window as a “mind journey” and like any garden mind journey, it needs a frame (in this case, provided by the window), a viewing point (where am I most likely to look out this window from?) and a focal point.
I’ve been feeling a bit intimidated by this challenge, so thanks for inspiring me to get to work on it!