Outside My Window: A Look Into Garden

Ilona Erwin

My favorite garden author, Helen Van Pelt Wilson, had an intensely planted space she called her “Look Into” garden. Looking through a large casement window in her kitchen, she viewed this little plot of a garden every day. It existed purely for the pleasure of something pretty to look at on a daily basis. As we grow older and desire less overall work, this sort of garden gains immense attraction.
Woman Seated at a Table by a Window
In fact, I have always wanted this sort of feature, but my old fashioned home did not come with large windows. Yet, there are always windows that we find ourselves returning to, often, to check on the state of the great outdoors… and these can be our openings into such spaces as our own “Look Into” garden.

This isn’t a garden for everybody. For some it seems to be too much work or planning, for others it might not appeal to their design sense because of its inclusion of too many elements in too small a space. But for plant lovers, who find bliss in a patch of bright bloom, and gardeners who can no longer manage large spaces of demanding work, I think this is an ideal plan.

I’ve been slowly changing one side garden to meet some of these characteristics, and the front windows always seem to ask for more color. The choices of plants for such gardens would depend quite a bit on the amount of shade or sun such an area receives. My eastern aspect receives a good deal of shading from large trees on the south, so it has plants that tolerate a bit of part shade. Ideally, I’d like a mostly sunny space.

Characteristic Features of Such a Garden

  • Packed with bright color from an array of flowers
  • Smaller in size to reduce maintenance
  • Including bits of everything for all season interest, bulbs, some perennials, a small tree
  • Unworried about design, instead enjoying the pleasure of the plants, themselves
  • Seek a succession of bloom during all possible months

In my own developing version are early bulbs such as Tulipa Kaufmanniana “Hearts Delight”, later larger tulips in maroon and pinks, and English bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta..

garden view

long season of bloom

Later in the season are lilies and feverfew. Hostas against the trunk of a tree, a new planting of Digitalis (foxgloves), Campanulas, sweet woodruff, agastache, fancy leaved heucheras, and lamium maculatum. The lamium is under the large rosebush that screens this area from the driveway. This garden is mainly for growing things I like to look at and presently doesn’t have a strong design. It is the area most changing at present.

The Hellebores are planted here, fronting an Asian lily patch on one side and along the side of the little pond on the other side. Yes, this is the area of my yard that holds my one small water feature. Birds, butterflies, and frogs all like this space, which creates another layer of intrigue.

I don’t have many annuals, but with a little planning that may change for this year. Adding containers is the easy way to create a colorful spot in a smaller space, so that is one direction I would like to go with it… I don’t want to crowd it too much though, since my bird bath is in this garden as well!

Oh my! This is started to sound too busy, but so far, it isn’t anything of the kind. The bird bath and the little pond meld naturally, and though there are seasonal clumps of daffodils and Siberian iris near the pond, the overall impression most of the year is of yellow lilies, white feverfew, blanket of the Lamium under that diva of a rose, Therese Bugnet.

The perennial plantings are tucked near the house in a concentrated area, anchored with the America climbing rose against the wall.

My greatest challenge in this garden is the fact that it gets dry, and the plantings are hungry and need more compost. But any garden that can give so much enjoyment through the season deserves the attention to watering and feeding that keeps it in top condition.

A Look Into Garden is reduced in size, but big in impact for those who love blooming plants all through the season.

The great asset of this type of garden is the reward for your efforts at manicuring and attending to it: every day it provides a picture of beauty and satisfaction. A real motivation for the gardener and a place where the culmination of one’s work can be appreciated, come rain or shine.

Combine a theme with your own “Look Into” Garden:

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.