Why your windows are the most important part of your garden….

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: June 14th, 2015 In: Garden style & living

What do you see when you look out of your window? If you have a middle-sized town garden, there may be all sorts of things you can’t do anything about – such as next door’s garage, street lights and any number of sheds or buildings. But you can still make sure that the first thing you see lifts your heart. As I made my morning tea today, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw an iris that I planted two years ago. It’s flowering for the first time.

Iris seen from the window

This is the first thing I saw this morning when I looked out of the kitchen window. I planted it there because there was a gap, not because of any cunning plan.

Design a town garden ‘from the house’

Chelsea Gold medal-winning garden designer, Charlotte Rowe, says that it’s important to design town gardens ‘off the house’. She sees doorways and window frames as ‘framing the view’. If you live in a temperate climate, you will see your garden out of the window far more often than you will actually be in it.

Main bed summer 2015

This bed is in front of our kitchen window, and can also be seen as we go down the stairs. This is the ‘stairs’ view yesterday.

Our starting point for our garden re-design was to place the main bed – the biggest one and the one where I make the most effort – in front of the kitchen window. We can see it every time we go down the stairs (there’s also a window from the stairs) and every time we make a cup of coffee. This has been one of the changes that has brought us the most joy – and it’s great that people walk into the kitchen, see the main bed and say ‘garden’s looking nice.’

Window view from inside...

It’s difficult to photograph a window view from inside, but this gives you an idea…

Reflections of garden in window

Our garden reflected in our kitchen window – photograph by garden photographer Lisa Valder

Big beds outside kitchen door

Garden maker, Posy Gentles, has two big beds in front of her kitchen door (French windows) with a path winding up through them.

The view from Posy's French windows

The view from Posy’s French windows

A distraction can be as good as a cover-up…

Even if you can’t do anything about an ugly view, you can still distract from it. In the 1970s people tried to hide views with rows of conifers, but now you’re not allowed to dwarf your neighbour’s garden with a sky-high row of dark green trees. But it can be just as effective to plant something pretty that distracts the eye rather trying to cover something up.

Small trees as a distraction

We have a public car park in front of our house. These two malus hupensis, planted from pips by my friend, Kylie, won’t disguise the car park, but they’re already beginning to make us feel a little more cut off from it when we look out of the window.

Create a ‘still life’ as a focal point from your window…

Gardening writer Francine Raymond

Gardening writer Francine Raymond creates delightful ‘still life’ scenes with pots. Every time you look out of her windows, there’s always something pretty to see.

Make your windows part of your garden’s colour scheme….

Sunday Telegraph gardening writer, Francine Raymond, ties her planting scheme into the colour of her window frames. Her themes are grey and blue (above).

Green windows

Posy Gentles’ windows are painted ‘garden green’ and her house is a soft pale pink – tying in with her garden theme of soft vintage pinks.

Goodnestone Park gardens

More green-painted window frames at Goodnestone Park gardens – this is the garden building where lectures are given, not the main house.

Wisteria-draped window

The paint colour Lucie Neame chose for her windows tones perfectly with the wisteria draped around it.

Blue windows and nepeta

The blue-painted windows at Pheasant Farm were the starting point for the blue planting theme: hebes, nepeta and lavender.

Blue windows with nepeta

And at Pheasant Barn, the windows are painted blue, and the planting (nepeta, hebe, lavender) is also blue.

Summer planting

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Fiona and Hugh Boucher have a an one-acre garden, opening onto fields. They have concentrated their planting in two big beds in front of their windows because the garden is too big for them to manage lots of borders without professional help. This lovely planting (side view) was devised by Amicia Oldfield.

View from the windows

The same bed, viewed from the Bouchers’ window – it seems to stretch out towards the landscape beyond.

Patmos planting

And a balcony garden from abroad – the view from Miranda Alexander’s window on holiday in Patmos.

But if your garden is to sparkle, then so must your windows….

As I’ve said in a previous post, even the most distressed or vintage style looks at its best when it’s clean. The view from a clean window is always better than one that is spotted or smeared. I’m not a great one for cleaning windows – it’s one of those chores I keep meaning to get around to. And once I start fiddling with spray cleaners or vinegar, then I soon get bored of the repetitive wiping. Karcher sent me a Window Vac WV2 to review, so I wondered whether it would make the job quicker and easier. I’ve done a comparison, using my potting shed windows (see my Youtube video). I cleaned two windows the way I normally do, and two with the Window Vac. There’s no doubt that the WV2 cuts the window cleaning time in half, and does a much better job. For the full review, see here.

Using WV2 Karcher Window Vac

I’m Karchering the kitchen windows – definitely quicker than my previous spray-and-smear approach…photograph by Lisa Valder.

Of course, it’s a major job to decide to repaint your windows, so I’m not suggesting that you call the scaffolders in now. But it’s less of a job to dig a bed – or make a current bed bigger. And if you don’t like it, it’s even less of a job to turn it back to lawn. Or maybe it’s just worth thinking about when you plant a new plant – ask yourself ‘what will it look like from the windows?’ Do let me know your window tips, and I’d really appreciate it if you could share this using the buttons below. Thank you!

 

 

3 Comments

  • Julie quinn says:

    I love this article Alexandra. What a great personal view and such an important idea.

  • Miranda says:

    Yes, filthy windows, which are inevitable in grimy London just a short while after my postman/window cleaner Steve, has cleaned them, completely ruin the view. And especially on a summers evening, with sun low in the west. Perhaps I should invest in a wv for interim freshen ups!
    i love the idea of a ‘set piece’ just outside kitchen window. Will create one on return from heavenly patmos, where clouds of plumbago (one of my all time favourite plants) and a vine and sweet smelling jasmine frame the pale blue painted windows.. Would send a pic if I knew the technology. X

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