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Gardening From the Outside In

It’s time to eliminate the boundaries between your home and garden by opening windows to the garden views beyond.  Why do labor intensive work outside if you can’t sit by a window and enjoy the view?  There must be one window that looks onto a rose bush or perennial bed that doesn’t require a curtain or shutter.  There must be one view that allows light and air to bring the perfume of flowers into your home.  We all need windows that open to our garden views.

gardening, gardening photos, landscaping

Garden designer, Judy Horton, uses the maxim of “ gardening from the inside out” when working out her own designs or counseling others.  She asks her clients: What do you want to see when you park your car?  Or walk in with groceries? Or stand at the kitchen sink?  Or read the paper in the morning?  Answers to these questions support Horton’s observation that: “When you look at the garden from the outside, you see something different from the people who live inside.”

Every window in Horton’s cottage in California’s Hollywood Hills frames a portrait of a lush part of her garden outside.  On either side of her fireplace are windows revealing mature grapevines, orange kumquats and purple wisteria.

Horton will move plants around to fill other windows with garden color.  The window in her office frames a pink begonia that she placed in a pot on top of another pot so that it reaches the window.  In season, she hangs baskets of pink fuchsia hybrids, purchased at the supermarket, to fill the window in her bedroom.  Her permanent garden flows to and fills the doorway of her patio where she highlights hues of green instead of bold color. “I like a calm, clear, quiet space,” she says.

Denise Horner, a Midwest gardener who works her land for the sheer pleasure and reward, follows Horton’s guidelines.  A large picture window in her living room needs no curtain or blind as year round it frames either a bubbling fountain with water plants in the warm months or mounds of snow set with iron ornaments in the cold.  Her kitchen windowsill holds a row of potted plants that wave at the blooming hydrangeas outside.

Horton is so dedicated to eliminating the boundaries between in and out, that she lets a California grapevine creep into her living room right through the window.  Many gardeners dream of that flow, though insects, bees and heat prevent it from becoming a reality most seasons of the year.

But gardeners are adaptive by nature.  We have to be as some plants make it at one corner of the garden where they didn’t at the other, and some rules apply always and some do not.  INVENTION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME.  So have fun examining Horton’s principles below.  See if you can incorporate some of them to recharge your garden and your garden views.

  1. Follow good garden design: like good interior design, gardens start with the bones: floor, walls, ceiling, paths.  These are “vital” Horton says.
  2. Fill the foreground: start by placing a plant that changes with the seasons or gives off a pleasing scent close to a window or a door.
  3. Create a side yard tableau: in many urban areas, windows look onto a building next door.  Think of ways to improve the view with a fence and vines or taller plantings.  Horton bought an old Gothic window frame and hung it on the fence, trailing a vine over it.
  4. Consider multiple points of view: when planting a hedge in her front yard, Horton viewed the plan not only from the street, but from her living room window to get the curve of the hedge just right.
  5. Rethink color: again, ask yourself what mood you want to create when looking out your kitchen window, for example, and plant flowers that reflect that mood.

I hope you’re getting up from your chair right now and looking through your windows for new garden views.

Thanks to the LA Times, Lisa Boone, Michael Robinson Chavez and Destination Magazine

gardening, gardening photos, landscaping

Judy Horton allows a grapevine to grow through her living room window.


gardening, gardening photos, landscaping

Gay Lynn likes to read in this room, pausing to enjoy her garden.

Thanks to Gay Lynn who shared a series of photos working from the inside out. This one is from her living room window. Her garden is 32 years old, filled with love and care.


gardening, gardening photos, landscaping

Here is a photo of my back patio from the dining room window.


gardening, gardening photos, landscaping

This is tropical and lovely. Thanks to Susana De Leon!


Read more from Beth Havey on her blog, Boomer Highway

Elizabeth Havey

I’m a baby boomer, member of the hectic sandwich generation. I write Boomer Highway to help slow down the frenetic pace of life. I want to be “Your road to mind-body wellness for a longer life.” A registered nurse and health educator, I am passionate about preventative health measures and women’s health. Together, let’s deal with the snags in the fabric of life that affect our generation, our children and grandchildren. Together we can solve problems, stop racing along the boomer highway and slow down life’s pace. Wouldn’t it be great to navigate the coming decades on a peaceful road?

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