I love Japanese gardens. The peaceful serenity of them, the deep thoughtfulness that goes into every aspect of them. One aspect of designing a garden in the Japanese aesthetic has to do with "borrowed views," the parts of the world surrounding the garden that are not actually part of the garden itself but which are visible from it, and therefore become part of the design and structure of the garden.
I've tried to take that idea indoors and to use it to dictate much of what I do outdoors with my flowerbeds. Nearly everything I do outside is informed by what that view looks like from inside the house. (This is why, by the way, I dislike "foundation plantings"; I can't see them from the house!)
Here, the peachy-pink of the dahlia and (yet to bloom) geraniums contrasts with the royal blue of my motel chairs and my bicycle. All is set off nicely by the white wall and column of the porch.
This view needs some work yet. The little green and wood table by the pink wicker chair needs to be darker and more solid-looking, but not too dark, because then I'll lose my nice antique bronze table lamp against it. By a month from now, the hanging planter on the porch will have filled out a bit and will echo the rest of the porch colors with pale pink petunias and bright blue lobelia. The tree's canopy and the white wall of the porch become a striped wallpaper for the "room" of the front porch.
My hardest fought battles have been for control of the Long Bed in the backyard. Everything out there is arranged so that it displays nicely from this seat in the dining room. Can you see what this bed needs yet? Here's a clue.
No, not an English cottage in the background. Here, I drew it in.
With a sculpture or artifact or tall plant there, the neighbor's garage across the alley would still be technically visible, but you wouldn't "see" it the same way. Right now, his garage is a borrowed view I don't want. I need a garden folly there! Or something. The trick is finding something without spending any money at all on it.
Just for fun, here's the Long Bed from the upstairs bedroom, take a week or so ago when the Eastern redbud trees were nearly finished blooming.
If you enjoy flower gardening (and only if; this post is not meant in anyway to guilt you into redoing outdoor beds unless you actually enjoy doing that kind of thing) have fun thinking about how you'll see that new perennial plant you picked up from the inside of the house before you decide just where you're going to plant it outside.