A Room with a View

Years ago, when my family was planning to move to a house with a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, we concluded that cooking in a room too small for two people to turn around in wasn’t a good idea. So we decided to expand the existing kitchen to a space roughly the size of an airplane hangar and hired a young architect who presented us with a bang-up set of plans.

There was only one problem: no windows on the west-facing wall of the new addition. I was clueless, but my then-husband was adamant, insisting we add one. Whatever, I thought idly, ruminating about pull-out shelving.

Little did I know that by insisting on a window in the west-facing wall of our new kitchen, my ex ended up providing me with one of my favorite views of the gardens that surround our house. Of course, back in 1988, when all this was transpiring, I wasn’t a gardener and could have cared less. But I will be eternally grateful for his persistence.

The view from my kitchen window

The view in question isn’t spectacular; but it looks out into both a shady area and beyond it, a sunny one as well. A wobbly cedar arch, in past years a perch for robins’ nests, delineates the two areas and some broken flagstone pavers lead your eye from the inner garden to the outer space and disappear in the distance. Spring views include a massed bank of crimson-pink azaleas and a dogwood in bloom. In summer, the back-lit grasses and a tuteur in the sunny border. In fall, everything is in a lovely, over-the-top state of decline. And in winter – as I write this – I see the stalks of Liatris, coneflowers, and the stems of a red-twig dogwood shrub (Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’)  sometimes laced in snow.

There are other views from inside my house that I love, the loveliest of which has to be a magnificent old flowering crabapple tree (Malus floribunda) whose branches are so architecturally arresting that I’ve never wanted to screen them from view from the bay window. Even when it’s not in bloom, the sight of this tree is a gift I can’t do without. And last but not least cherished is the view from the window next to my bed out into the sunny part of the garden, especially in spring when the azaleas – hardly my favorite shrub except for this time of year – are in bloom.

My bedroom window view in spring with daffodils and azaleas in bloom.

Every gardener should think about views. When I design for clients, I ask them about important views, but you can do the same for your own space. So make sure there are windows where you want them, if you’re planning new spaces. If you’re working with what you already have, think about what you’d like to see on a daily basis, even if it’s only a lovely curved shape of a bed or a tree or shrub that’s striking in two or three (or four) seasons. And you’ll have what I have – a room (or two) with a view.

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4 Comments on “A Room with a View”

  1. I am in the process of designing a new garden. I stood in the three main windows downstairs in my house to see what the view was. I am only on my first project, a pleached lime walk that I can look into from my kitchen sink. Your garden looks beautiful!
    Welcome to Blotanical.

  2. Melissa Says:

    Your own garden looks pretty amazing! I will look forward to reports on that pleached lime walk – no space for that kind of project in my own garden but I enjoy getting to help clients think about their own views and what they want to see when they look out from their windows.

  3. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to
    your website? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from some of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!

    • Melissa Says:

      Dear Philomena,

      I took a quick look at your blog and am a little puzzled because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the intersection of garden design and photography – so I don’t think it’s much like mine.

      You are welcome to include links to my blog, or quotes from it, in your blog postings – but please do not reproduce or copy any photographs from the blog (see my home page). I am a professional photographer and do not provide photographs for others to use without express permission on an one-by-one basis. I hope you understand. Thank you.

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