A view does not merely exist in the world of sweeping Montana pastures or rocky coastlines in Maine. It is as simple as a framed viewpoint – a scene on a micro or macro level that encourages you to stop and absorb it. Whether we obsess or merely potter, it’s our job as gardeners to find those places within our own gardens – framing here, blocking there – to create an experience that goes beyond the nitty gritty of what type of tomato plants we put in this year.
The most utilized views of our garden are those at which we gaze through various windows in our home, and those that we see as we approach from the street. Both are equally important, but most people will concentrate on the latter and neglect the former in an effort to wow with curb appeal.
In my opinion, this is a mistake. We live in our homes and guests only visit. If your daily activities seem to find you in front of one particular window or another for any length of time (washing dishes, eating breakfast, writing a column), you should start right there, incorporating the garden into your daily inside life.
And, if you’re staring out at a neighbor’s collection of junk or an opposing window, that may begin with actively blocking that view.
A small, well behaved tree such as a dogwood or stewartia can help achieve that goal – not only providing bloom, but creating a resting place for wildlife and a source of entertainment for you.
If the space between houses is too narrow for a tree, you may want to consider a small freestanding trellis or bamboo screen that blocks unappealing views but can provide rungs for a lacy clematis or annual climbers. Adding a bird-feeding station and a hanging basket rounds out that picture nicely – creating a sense of sanctuary around your home.