After living in our flat for just over a year now, I have become aware of the three main challenges of our garden… I am sure others will raise their heads in the future, but right now, these are the things I am trying to come to terms with. The first challenge is that THE VIEW OF MY BACK GARDEN IS WEIRD. This challenge is primarily a design challenge, while the other two (in future posts) are not.
A rule I have heard repeatedly from the amazing Margaret Roach on garden design is to design your garden for the view from your home. It is always a good idea to look out your window at the garden and make sure it looks beautiful and makes sense from that particular perspective. I spend a lot of time washing dishes in front of the kitchen window, for example, so I would like as beautiful a view as I can get from this spot (as well as a view of my four-year-old, safe, digging in the dirt). Of course, it needs to feel good when you are actually out there, but this rule-of-thumb serves to remind us not to put the garden shed right in front of our living room window, or plant a spectacular flowering tree that attracts all kinds of observable birds in a place where we can only see it when we’re crouched beside the dog kennel with a strategically-placed mirror (just an example–we don’t have a dog… or a spectacular tree… yet).
This is all fine for my front garden, which almost feels like another room that we can look out on to. The kitchen window has one view of this garden. The other window is a large one in our living room, and at any time of day or year I like to perch on the wooden bench we have beneath it with a cup of tea. In spite of the size of the window and its proximity to the busy road, the garden, tightly bound by a 5′ hedge, allows me to feel tucked away in my own sanctuary. The view is not so much a composed one, but rather one that allows little glimpses of whatever is of interest at that time of day or year.
However, our rear garden is a different story. While we are only 18″ above the front garden’s ground level, the rear garden is about 7′ below the flat’s floor level (so almost 13′ below my eye-level). As is most often the case with these kinds of four-in-a-block flats, our garden is separated from our upstairs neighbour’s by a shared drying green. Theirs is at the end of the section and ours is closest to the flat.
And therein lies the problem. We need to be right at our bedroom window to see our garden below. I am not complaining about the view beyond that (pictured above), however–over trees and houses and on down to the sea–it’s just that just that I would like to be able to look at my garden and not feel like I am looking down at a plan of my garden. What should look like drifts of grasses and flowers look more like blobs and circles, and I can see exactly where they are planted–there are no layers revealing and concealing. Simply, there’s no mystery from the perspective of our bedroom. I imagine this is what it is like to be a very tall person looking down on the parts and pins in people’s hairdos. You can see how it is done, but don’t get to appreciate the intended effect. And here we are back to the “rule”–isn’t the intended effect to create a beautiful view to see from the window?
Have you got any ideas for how to work with this issue? Let me know! Meanwhile, I have a few solutions that I have come up and I will outline them in next Sunday’s post.