What 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.
I 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.
Lady 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.
My 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.
The 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.
My 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.
My 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.
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.