Look Out Of Any Window

As the warm days of early fall turn to cool and blustery days of mid fall there will be more time spent pondering the garden from behind the glass. The birds will give us interesting views that before were provided by the colorful blooms and textural riot of foliage.The renovation of the main house included the placement of windows strategically for optimum garden viewing from the various comfy upholstered pieces of furniture we favor when in repose.  In the living room is a window that looks out on to the lower deck and beyond to the daylily hill.  The dual shepherd’s hook holding squirrel proof feeders is the sight line from my favorite lazyboy.Sitting on the criminally soft black leather sofa, better make that lying on said sofa, the view pivots to the garage deck bed , rock steps and farther to the shrub border that is punctuated by the eight foot tall orange cosmos.Moving from east to west we find the back door of the mudroom, viewable from the lazyboy again that looks out to the container line up along the wall and up the steep slope. At present the muhly grass is grabbing our gaze. The more subtle tones of the dark ajuga, silvery dianthus and golden creeping jenny that paint the step risers will become the focal point as the garden slows down to a snail’s pace.When the work was begun to enlarge and enhance the main house in 2000, there was a vision of the main view of the garden to be in the master bedroom from the loveseat positioned looking outward through glass patio doors rather than into the room.  The pond was dug directly out from these doors to best be appreciated in all seasons. Winter day dreaming and garden analysis happened here while comfortably resting on the faded rose purple velvet seen in the reflection. Studies were conducted to see how we could improve the view, what colors would work, where evergreens needed to be added to balance and create the garden for which we yearned. In spring the spaces crying out for the cheering yellow of daffodils would implore us to race out and move the blooming bulbs to the empty spots. How can one know the best place for bulbs unless they are all blooming?Seasons came and went, the slope had been tweaked and twisted until satisfaction with that part of the garden was achieved. An addition was built to join the main house to the garage. The entire back wall of this new room is taken up by a twelve foot glass patio door that looks out onto the multitrunk maple tree flanked by slopes. The lower deck is accessed by these doors and the contemplation of the garden moved to the pair of lazyboys that were added to this room. The computer desk and another television completed the all purposeness of this space. The garden design of this part of the garden had been neglected in favor of the master bedroom view’s fine tuning. Thinking caps were donned to determine what was needed to improve this area. The daylily hill would need more plantings to extend the interest beyond the spring bulbs and the daylily two month parade. This is still very much a work in progress but the addition of asters, sheffies and rudbeckias has helped give color along with Autumn Joy sedum and echinaceas after the daylilies become mere green globs. Foliage diversity is still lacking.Sitting on the sleeper sofa opposite the pair of lazyboys, the view is shifted to the slope, shed and steps. There are more visual dynamics from this perspective. For serious analysis the sofa offers a place to spread the catalogs out and lacks the distraction of the laptop and blogging. We can move the laptop to the sofa, but normally sit at the lazyboy for that activity. We should change that name to lazygirl in this case.The final room with garden viewing is the kitchen. Granted we are not just idly staring out when in this space, but bustling busily cooking and cleaning up after cooking. The window with the stained glass piece is preferred by the cats to keep track of critter comings and goings, particularly birds in the cherry tree and winterberry hollies. We can see our neighbors Mae and Mickey’s garden across the street with the light vinyl fence. We end with the window above the kitchen sink. Quality quantity time is spent here so the view needed to be as appealing as possible. There is the stonework of the garage facade, cobalt blue containers (not in photo) with seasonal color and the sweep of Muhlenbergia capillaris along the far driveway with the tall pines behind. In the beginning the edge was lined with liriope to encase the small lawn on the side of the garage. More and better plantings were needed but the soil, if it can even be called soil, is the old gravel driveway of the house that was torn down to build the garage. That is not conducive to a flower bed, even the grass would barely grow there. In a dream the sea of swirling pink grasses came to us and the spots of existing muhly were raided to fill the long border. It has taken several years for the tiny divisions to fill in. The lower end is still sparse, for the liriope was left there, for reasons unknown. This spring that portion of liriope was yanked out and the muhly was planted. A few strands bloomed. The original interplanting of Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ was much too short to give the wanted spring color after the muhly is cut down to four inches come early March. Those grape hyacinths have been replaced with taller Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and A. sphaerocephalon, the drumstick allium to extend the colorful view while one is toiling at the kitchen sink.
We hope you have enjoyed looking out our windows as much as we do. When the weather permits, the window watching always entices us to go out into the garden. But when that is not possible and there is daylight enough to make out the plantings, looking out the windows offers  the next best thing.
The title of this post is from the lyrics of the Grateful Dead song “Box Of Rain

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24 Responses to Look Out Of Any Window

  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, the view from our windows are so important and is where design should start. Your views are lovely and each one is very different. My bungalow is higher than the garden so we look down from the sitting room and the back garden is designed around this view. I have more work to do on the front but it will also be planted up to give the best views from my windows.

    I have planted some bulbs in pots this year so I can add to some existing plantings in the spring. As you say it is difficult to know where the bulbs are needed in autumn, photos only show so much.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks for stopping by. I would love to have views looking down from the windows, such a different perspective. We did have that in another house we lived in TN. The paths wandering looked interesting in the winter, like dotted lines on a drawing. The highest view of the garden is from the garage deck, but only half of the garden is visible from there, we are quite sprawling. Bulbs in pots is a wonderful way to get color where you want it. Thanks for reminding me that needs to be done here. ;->

  2. Cindy says:

    You have wonderful views from all those windows! And it sounds like some pretty comfy seating inside as well. But aside from all the views outside I must say I love your kitchen stained glass and beads – those blues really pop!

    Hi Cindy, thanks, the views were paramount in the renovation. And why have seating that is not comfortable, except for the dining room, no lollygagging in there! LOL I was wondering if anyone would comment on the beads. They are just a bag of plastic mixed blues and greens from walmart strung on waxed linen, also from walmart and hung from an extension rod. I like the way the light comes through them.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    There is nothing lazy about you Frances so just leave that title to the chairs. I can not even imagine you sitting on the sofa let alone stretched out flat. Ha.. Those views are certainly wonderful. So many lovely things to look at and to keep your imagination going.

    Hi Lisa, oh you know me so well. LOL I am many things, but lazy is not one of them. I can barely sit still, except when blogging! Thanks for seeing through those lines to the real truth. I do lay down when I am sick, sometimes, a little.

  4. Gail says:

    Frances, Your garden is remarkably beautiful from any view! But sitting in those wonderfully cushy chairs is a boon! I loved sitting at the Financiers desk…He has one of the best views…out those magnificent doors onto the multi-trunked maple. Your photos are outstanding and clearly show the thought that has gone into your house and garden design. I wish we had redone our kitchen windows when we rehabbed the house for better views of the wooded backyard! …I just wasn’t thinking! The garden still looks lovely.


    Hi Gail, thanks, so glad you got to see what I was talking about. Sometimes it is hard to explain something even with photos, of the mesmerizing views. The last couple of days when it has been cold, just watching the wind blow the grasses and the birds at the feeders could occupy many hours. Thinking about the views is always important with the renos!

  5. Randy says:

    What lovely views Frances! Jamie and I were just having this very conversation this past weekend. We were discussing removing the back kitchen wall and replacing it with windows to better enjoy the garden. 🙂

    Hi Randy, thanks. Money well spent on enhancing the views from inside the house, think to the future when gardening might not be as easy for you. Looking out at the garden is the most satisfying indoor activities. I love hearing about your wall removal, down with the walls! We took out a wall in our other TN house and put in a greenhouse with curved glass, (big mistake) with tile floor, water spigot and a drain that opened into the living room. A kitchen is much better, water at hand. Being able to close it off at night helps with the heating bill, we hung quilts on rods to slide back and forth.

  6. linda says:

    What beautiful views you have from your windows Frances! Love the huge patio doors, and the stained glass piece in your kitchen window.

    Hi Linda, thanks. The stained glass piece is broken, so it can only rest on the bottom, not hang. I stupidly hung it from those suction cup thingeys and it feel to the floor and cracked. I was heartsick but it still looks pretty. Don’t make that mistake!

  7. Lola says:

    Frances, What a fantastic view from every window. I couldn’t imagine having such beauty. The squirrel proof bird feeder on the shepherds hook, the caged one. I have one just like that & the squirrels have eat the ports all to pieces. I have wondered if I call the company if the ports could be replaced. Such a shame to have something & not be able to use it. Those critters sure are destructive but I like to watch their antics.

    Hi Lola, thanks. Great job on your post over at In The Garden, BTW! I have found that there are different levels of quality to those so called squirrel proof feeders. That one is from Smith and Hawken and was expensive. Others from the big box stores were not up to the task of keeping the vandals out and fell apart. Our squirrels are very aggressive too. ;-<

  8. Dear Frances, your are a lucky girl. You can never get bored with all those fantastic views. I do agree with Sylvia the indoor design should start by looking out. / LOL Tyra

    Hi Tyra, thanks so much. It is impossible not to be drawn in by the views, any time of year. It makes it hard to read a book while sitting in those spots. There is always something that catches my attention and requires great in depth contemplation. ;->

  9. Marnie says:

    You have wonderful views. My favorite is the door with the many panes. I love the acorn bird feeder. Haven’t seen anything like it.

    Hi Marnie, thanks, they are the next best thing to being in the garden, especially when it is cold like today. The view straight out the back door with the multi panes catches my attention constantly when I am in that room. The acorn feeder is my absolute favorite, a gift from my sister in law Lynn. I think it was made by an artist in Pennsylvania where she lives. I would love to have more like that one, it is squirrel proof too, what a bonus!

  10. tina says:

    Your views are lovely. Ones all gardeners desire. You have done an excellent job. And what joy when it is too cold to go outside and you can sit and still enjoy it.

    Hi Tina, thanks. It is nearly impossible for me not to go outside, even if just for a short while after looking out the windows, even when it is cold like today. I just bundle up. I need that garden fix! LOL

  11. tina says:

    No frost here though I spent time yesterday pulling the gourd vines JUST to deny Mother Nature the pleasure of blackening them all. lol

    Hi Tina, I am still waiting for those silly coleus to kick the bucket. They are starting to look a little ratty though, it might be time. I need to go get some bulbs to stick in the pots before the pansies go in, and some other kind of greenery, or maybe just cut some everygreens and stick them in.

  12. You have gorgeous views from your windows! Another Lazyboy couple right here — we both use wireless notebooks from our comfy seats with views of the pool and woods (our gardens are out front).

    I read, nap and have breakfast in the garden room so that I can hear the waterfall and see the garden. Got to feel like I’m “out there” even when I’m not! 🙂


    HA Cameron, thanks, another lazyboy addict. I don’t want to sit anywhere else, but they take up so much room and cannot be put against the wall. Comfort over looks anyday! ;-> A view of the woods sounds divine.

  13. Benjamin says:

    Seeing as it is 20 degrees here this morning, I’ve no choice but to look out windows–and your view is better than mine. I see frost here everywhere, and eupatorium, morning glories, coreopsis, butterfly bushes–well, ALL of it looks very limp and shriveled just overnight. And they say 65 tomorrow. Back to your windows….

    Hi Benjamin, thanks and feel free to look out my windows anytime. It sounds like you might want to give some thought to the look of the garden in winter. Hardscape and hedges come to mind, attractive paths, structural elements of tree trunks and shrub forms can make for a nice window view. Winter is a good time to think about those types of things when unfettered by flowers and monarchs. ;->

  14. Lzyjo says:

    What lovely views. It must be inspiring to blog while looking out on all the beauty. I love the window beads, they’re beautiful, whimsical, and handmade-looking (in a good way.) 😉

    Hi Izyjo, thanks. It is hard to concentrate when looking out the windows but to get those ideas flowing, the views are the best. Thanks about the window beads, they were fun to do over a period of several days, mindlessly stringing while watching tv. I will discard them, or give them away after I tire of them, but so far after three or four years, I forget, they still make me smile.

  15. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! I love windows and doors and your views through them are just beautiful (I have been known to come back from a trip to Europe and have a hundred photos of windows and doors with all the beautiful foliage around them!). Your thoughtful planning of your renovations sure is paying off. I agree with Lisa’s comments above “there is nothing lazy about you Frances…!!!” I think we should rename that chair. :)) Have a great day out in your lovely garden.

    Hi Siria, thanks. How wonderful to have those pics to remember your travels. I took a large group of photos, I had just gotten my first digital camera and a fellow tourist helped me figure out how to use it, in colonial Williamsburg. It was December and all the doors were decorated for the holidays with nature inspired wreaths. The colors of the buildings with those feathers and fruits was captivating. I just went out, even with my heavy coat to snap some shots and about froze to death. I can’t wear gloves when taking photos and that wind is cold!

  16. Gill says:

    I so need to move to the country to get those sort of views, living in a city subdivison isn’t at all the same.

    Gill in Canada

    Hi Gill, this view is from an older subdivision in a city, although a very small one. I have been working to create this view for eight years. It was not like this when we moved here. The slope was untamed with a tangle of privet, weed tree seedlings and junk filling those views that are so lovely now. It did take a backhoe to give us a clean slate to start planting. Only the multi trunk maple was standing when I started planting. Or you could move to the country. ;->

  17. Brenda Kula says:

    Oh, I love your window views! How wonderful that must be to have that welcoming you each day. Of course, once the room painting and flooring part of the remodel is finished (soon now, I think, as my guy is working on it), he shall start tearing down walls for French doors. Frances, I will finally have a view of my pond and gardens. For the first time. I have to go outside and around the house now. I just can’t wait to have a “room with a view.

    Hi Brenda, thanks so much. And many many happy hours to you of sitting inside and gazing at your lovely creation. It brings so much delight and inspiration and pride. I am so glad you are going to get to experience this. It is well worth the expense.


  18. Marnie & I must have similar taste – I also was struck by that acorn birdhouse. That’s worth having even if the birds ignore it. More houses should be designed for optimum viewing of the garden, but then most houses don’t have such a spectacular garden to view. I’ve always thought that every kitchen needs a window over the sink, preferably with a view. The Muhly grass is the perfect thing on which to rest the eyes while the hands scrub pots.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I am besotted with that acorn house too. The birds all seem to like it, they can cling to the wire and peck out the seeds. The woodpeckers are steady customers too. I completely agree about the sink and window. When I look at houses, we like to go to open houses and showcase homes around Knoxville, I always check to see if they put the sink under a window. Sometimes I think the designers have never washed a dish! We shall see how the muhly grass changes. Sometimes I have cut it down when it starts falling all over the place but plan to let it stand as long as possible with the new Piet Oudolf outlook we have adopted. ;->

  19. Nancy Bond says:

    What wonderful views you have, Frances! And none nicer than looking out onto those stone and concrete stairs. Sigh…….

    Hi Nancy, thanks. That is one of my favorites too. I have worked really hard to create those views and am glad that the hardest part of that work is done. I don’t know if I have enough energy to do it again. Not on a slope like this anyway. We will probably move one more time, in about five years or so when the Financier retires. Of course that is a long way off and lots of things could affect that. But while there are still tweaks needing to be made, the view behind the main house is satisfactory. Now the fun of watching everything mature can be had from inside if need be. Too long a reply, you caught me in a daydream. ;->

  20. titania says:

    I enjoyed the view from your windows a lot. You can watch and enjoy the birds and while washing the dishes contemplating what next to plant.

    Hi Titania, thanks. You hit upon one of the best things about it, thinking about what new plants need to be added! ;->

  21. Frances, How long have you lived here? You’ve done a wonderful job of landscaping and gardening! It’s a treat to see what you do out your windows. 🙂

    Hi Shady, thanks. We bought the house in ’96 for our daughters to live in while attending college and planted some of the perimeter evergreens then. We moved here in 2000 and began serious gardening, beginning with the clearing and terracing of the slope with a backhoe that was used to dig the foundation of the house addition. There has been lots of hard work and expenditure, although all of the perennials began with the purchase of one plant and then divided it ruthlessly over the years, like the muhly grass. The trees and shrubs were purchased in the smallest pots we could find, one gallon or less. It is remarkable how quickly those have grown.

  22. Pam/Digging says:

    Not only did I enjoy the views out your windows, but I also got a better sense of the overall layout of your garden from these pictures. You’re right to pay attention to garden views. I’m thinking about mine (in the new house) right now.

    Hi Pam, thanks, what a lovely comment, especially coming from you! I hope someday you can see my garden for yourself. Your house probably has fantastic views that you will add your own touch to bring them to meet your vision for the place.

  23. DP says:

    What a gorgeous view you have of your garden. Everything looks so green and relaxing. I’d love to sit back and have a cup of tea in front of those windows!

    Hi DP, thanks. Having tea or my fave hot chocolate while gazing out is a very enjoyable activity on a cold day. We shall see how green things are after the sun rises this morning. Our first frost was last night.

  24. Every view is wonderful. Each is enticing and makes me want to go into the garden.

    Hi Donna, thanks. It is hard to stay out of the garden while looking out the window, even when very cold, like now. ;->]

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