June 3rd, 2002
Borrowed Views

The problem with borrowed views is that you have no control over them.

Any gardener with a small garden learns to borrow visual elements in the landscape beyond the garden’s borders. When I look up from my desk, the path through the meadow leads my eye to the trunk of a huge live oak tree in the yard behind mine, and to the screen of mixed green shrubbery beyond. In front of the chainlink fence, I’ve planted a mix of flowering shrubs that disguises the boundaray rather than a hedge that would call attention to it. This creates an illusion that the back yard is twice as deep as it is. The neighbor has a old stucco outbuilding that complements the scene.

Or did. The problem with borrowed views is that the gardener has no control over them. Last week my neighbor repainted her house a pale blue that is more bright than white. Rather than the soft, sandy beige, which was the same color as the granite sand paths and which blended with well with the yellow greens of Texas plants, this blue building smacks you in the face. It’s massive. It foreshortens the garden and makes me feel claustrophobic. My illusion is destroyed.

My neighbor to the south just installed a very nice stone terrace and which provided a backdrop for the winter garden in the front yard. However, this weekend he topped the wall with four truly hideous cement cherubs. I can hardly wait for my oleanders to grow back and hide this view.

On the plus side, my neighbors on the north just built an 8-foot high wooden privacy fence which blocks their backyard off from our driveway. We are both relieved not to have to stare at each other.

by M Sinclair Stevens

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