house bound 026What does winter mean?  Housebound.  Even Howard gets stir crazy. The cold, the snow, the blustery winds-these things force me inside.  My house, which usually seems large enough to live in, and more than large enough to clean, is the moral equivalent of a hamster cage in winter.   I take three steps, and a wall looms.  In self-defense, I am studying my views from inside out.  I pace from one room to the next-this a condition from which there is little relief.  But today I am not only pacing, but thinking about the views from my rooms. Placing a container that is good looking piled high with snow improves this view.

house bound 020I am happy that my rose and perennial garden I thought to spare a full fall cut back.  I like seeing the frail brown sticks out my window. My winter view has texture, mass, light and dark.  I like a congested, visually lively, winter perennial landscape.  I could write on like a fool about this.  But suffice it to say, from indoors, I like to see something going on.    

house bound 023Lady Miss Bunny, my steel and moss sculpture patterned after a breed of English cow, stands out my bedroom window. She weathers.  Every morning and every night I check her out-some winter days I wonder how she manages.  I like seeing her there, on duty.  Never mind the rain, the wind, the snow, the sleet-I see her the last before I climb into bed, and the first thing when I get up.    

house bound 034My kitchen door is full length glass- the largest uninterrupted view I have from indoors.   A yew hedge is faced down with the thatched remains of some large clumps of panic grass, and not much else.  This view could definitely stand some improvement. I am equally at ease choosing something that has great appeal, with no location in mind, as I am able to keep a spot in mind that needs something.  Something center of interest that works well in the summer in this spot no doubt will improve my winter.     

house bound 028The pattern of the window panes figures in the view.  What I see standing up is different than what I see sitting down. But what I see as the biggest issue-designing the views out such that privacy is maintained.  I have been in homes with lots of windows, where the drapes are always drawn.  Those drapes work to insure privacy inside, but they also keep people unnecessarily cooped up.  I have designed my landscape such that I am able to see out, without being the object of someone’s attention from the street. 

house bound 030My enclosed front porch is almost entirely glass.  One has to come through the porch door, to get to the front door.  This architectural feature provides for privacy from the outside to the inside.  In addition, my five foot tall yew hedge runs along the entire north and south side of my corner lot some 11 feet out from the house foundation.  The hedge is the backdrop for the public presentation of the landscape from the street.  It is likewise a backdrop for my view out.  No one outdoors can see me standing in the window, nose pressed to the glass; this is a good thing.

house bound 040My office at home has windows on three sides; the space can be very chilly on a cold day.  But I more value being able to see out.  The landscape here is layers of yew, grasses, and rhododendron through which I can see.  They screen my window from the outside.  I am incidentally able to tell fairly well what the outside temperature is, based on the degree of droop of the rhododendron leaves.   

house bound 015
If it is not clear whether your views screen from one side, and permit views out from the other, photograph them.  The lens of a camera has no emotional investment or judgment about what you have-it is a machine that records what is there.  You will be able to tell what is not there.  Now might be the best time to be planning for better views from your rooms.

Lush Life

This quiet and well tended landscape was sputtering along on too few cylinders; it seemed to be needing a big dose of what I call lush life. The retail store of the same name in Atlanta Georgia wedges great gifts, ideas, objects for home and garden,  floral design, books, antiques and much more into what once was a small home and property.  Everywhere you look, the space lives up to its name.  www.lushlifehomegarden.com. Lush Life is a striking visual lesson in how to create beautiful spaces, and views; shopping this store is even better.

 Lush life-I knew those words would appeal to my client.  In her typically direct fashion, she said she wanted me to design a landscape that would persuade her to get involved.
Her lawn service had installed this giant pool of egg rock right off her terrace, thinking to drain water from a low spot that was impossible to mow. I guess this is one way of handling it.  When I see things like this, I know the most important job will be getting to client to reclaim ownership.  Persuade me, she said. 

sills-consult-12The drive and walk were functional.  Though well maintained, it was indeed enough to put you to sleep.  Every space was in full view of every other space.  The parking area got top billing, driving in. The landscape telegraphed all of its visual moves such you could see it all, driving by.  As the only landscapes I love driving by are Lady Bird Johnson’s blubonnet meadows on the Texas highways in late March, Lake Michigan from a perch on the Mackinac Bridge, and other big open places of the same ilk, I knew she needed not just places to be, but lushly living places where she could live too. 

sills-consult-14Even a good looking lawn is not enough, if the shape of the lawn is not beautiful.  All the elements of a landscape need to help each other look better.  The white Victorian period iron furniture was not good with the red Japanese maple, which was struggling in the shade of one of the most beautiful big European beech I had ever seen. 


The white furniture is now dark.  The terrace is twice the original size.  A fountain made of a concrete pot in the classical Italian style sits over top a giant underground French drain. Some big pots lush with life warm up the terrace. The terrace garden is green and gaining visual weight.

aug-27a-026The big beech is underplanted with an even bigger sweep of myrtle.   Two Princeton Gold maples mark an entrance from the immediate terrace garden, to the far gardens.  There are enough curves and swoops to keep the eye moving around the space.

aug-27a-025The lush carpet of myrtle is home to an old cast iron sculpture, and an aging wood bench.  There are views to this from several vantage points-all the views are different.  The masses of chartreuse hosta soften and lighten the space.  The backdrop of mixed evergreens is growing in.

aug-27a-027Parked cars are no longer part of the landscape.  The view to the drive is anchored by a big splash of variegated miscanthus grass, snugged up to a hydrangea Tardiva.  This is an casual landscape, with strong impact.


By no means should casual mean sleepy.  There is a very interesting thing going on with color here-a cohesive statement consistent from back to front.

Lush life. She likes it.