June 23, 2006

Borrowed views

The wonderful thing about borrowed views is that you don't have to give them back! They are more or less on permanent loan. If the borrowed views are eyesores, then the terrible thing about borrowed views is that you can't give them back!

Borrowing the neighbor's clemmatisBorrowed views, for those unfamiliar with the term, are the things in your neighbours' yards that, whether you much like it or not, become part of the visual landscape of your yard. The chain link fence running down one side of your back yard, the magnificent elm you feast your eyes on every morning, the rusting car in the next driveway: all are borrowed views. And it's an essential part of garden planning to take them into account.

In a townhouse, borrowed views are literally only steps away. It is my good fortune to be able to "borrow" the neighbours' magnificent clematis and purpleleaf sandcherry. Other than providing me with flowers to ogle, this means a couple of things on the practical level for me. First, I have to take into account the shade cast by the sandcherry once it's leafed out. And as I push this flowerbed further forward (which I firmly intend to do if we end up not moving) I will carefully avoid planting anything with purple leaves in close proximity and at the same time, try to echo it a little further away. I'm already doing this a bit with a Palace Purple heuchera that you may be able to make out in this photo a bit. In short, I will have to harmonize with their plantings much as if they were my own.

And now that I've stopped to think a little longer about this, planting a semi-shade vine on the grey wall around the corner from the clematis would help give it more weight. For this I would have to ask permission: the soil may be mine, but the wall is the neighbour's.

1 comment:

Hanna in Cleveland said...

I just thought I would stop by and say thanks for stopping by my garden blog.

Borrowed views are great, aren't they? Well, at least if they are good ones. It's like twice the garden with half the work.

I like the way you are thinking about echoing your neighbor's garden in with yours. I have not gotten that far yet, but maybe I should.