Looking outside for gardening insight

Garden view through a window

This photo of an English garden was taken from inside the home’s living room in November, 2013.

The countdown to full-on gardening in Southern Ontario has started. But the ground is still frozen and our daytime temps are climbing. Very. Slowly. So, I’m still looking at the garden from inside the house and repeating to myself that, this spring, I’m going to plant some plants and arrange some containers out there to make the long gazes through these windows more interesting throughout the year. Even when summer is finally here, we won’t be spending every waking moment outside–to every season some bad weather must come. But I can always improve my point of view.

Here are some ways to improve a window’s view and blur the boundary between inside and outside:

Just before you dig the hole for a new tree or perennial, run into the house and check out how it looks from the nearest window. Shifting its location to the left or right a foot or two probably won’t make much of a difference in terms of your overall garden design but might save you from a winter’s worth of sighs.

Choose houseplants for inside a window that repeat the colours of the flowers and/or the shapes of leaves on the plants seen directly outside the window.

• For a window that looks out onto your fabulous garden and the neighbours’ ugly driveway/wall/swimming pool, install hanging planters on either side of the window to act as living blinders.

Plants in containers at window

You don’t have to get fancy to upgrade the view from a window.

• Think of the fixed portion of a sliding glass door or a floor-to-ceiling window as just a see-through fence between two halves of one mini-garden. Arrange plants in containers on both sides, placing taller plants next to the glass. Check the view from inside and outside until you’re satisfied with the arrangement. This idea works particularly well for an apartment balcony.

• To break up the view of a boring, snow-covered lawn during a long, cold winter, gather up various stuff–textured plant containers, maybe an old wooden chair, a collection of birdhouses, a sundial, whatever you think will look cool with a dusting of snow on it–and create a temporary outdoor arrangement in your window’s line of sight. Think of it as garden sculpture with attitude. And you can make a new statement every year.

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