We know a gardener whose most sublime view of her garden is from the bathtub on the second floor of her house. From there she can look down on her borders laid out like blankets of color. The last time we took a bird’s eye look at the Display Garden was in 2005 when the greenhouse was being restored. Gail and I perched on the storage container that was parked next to the cutting beds and for the first time we really saw the patchwork laid out.
From our own eyeball height off the ground we generally see the gardens as waves of horizons and as precious vignettes but from a second story the character of the garden totally changes. From fifteen or so feet up, we can really start to see the whole rather than just garden parts. We see different patterns from up there and all the threads that stitch the garden together. It’s really helpful and I’m not sure why I haven’t asked to borrow the ginormous pruning ladder before this! (No, I know why: I’m a little bit afraid of wuthering heights… – but the view was well worth the teetery feeling and adrenaline rush.)
The Display Garden is very different from what it was in 2005 and the changes Fred has made in the last couple of years are even more apparent from above. The grid of small rectangular Idea Beds (just visible on the middle left of the first picture above) has been replaced by a couple of large beds with paths, a fountain, game table and crowned by a gracious shady sitting area. The cement pond is surrounded now by a spacious lawn rather than narrow beds and the other beds in the Display Garden have been recreated to better tie to the whole quilt. The layout of the Cutting Garden is the only piece that hasn’t needed to be resewn.
I don’t have a second story on my house and am certainly not inclined to go traipsing around on my roof – but if I could get an overview of my own yard (which is still rather blank-slate-ish) I think I’d be better able to wrap my mind around how to knit the whole thing into a garden. Can you view your garden from above? Have you used that vantage to the garden’s advantage? Have you designed any part of your garden (like our friend with the bathtub windows has) to enhance your view from upstairs?