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Borrowed Views: Neighbors’ Gardens Frame Plantings In One’s Own

Look at your autumn garden and your borrowed views and maybe add a few echoes of your neighbor’s colorful specimens in your own plantings next spring.

borrowed views

Photo: by Martin LaBar

An aisle of Bradford pear trees.

The view of my garden seen from all sides is augmented by borrowed views. This is especially striking in the fall when the trees in my neighbors’ gardens change color and add to and frame the plantings in my own yard. It is serendipitous but welcome nevertheless.

From my front porch, for example, my eye is drawn to colorful foliage on trees at least 3 or 4 houses away from mine. A lot of the most colorful trees in the fall also offer interest in other seasons because of their flowers, bark or fruit, as well as their shapes. Dogwoods are a prime example, but male clones of Ginko biloba such as ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Princeton Sentry’ and red maples such as Acer rubrum ‘Red Sunset’, as well as redbuds and sweet gums, are also wonderful to have either in our own gardens or in ones near to us.

Shrubs can also contribute to a beautiful backdrop to our own plantings, if they are visible in a neighbor’s yard. Fothergilla, burning bush, ninebark, itea, oakleaf hydrangea, viburnum, caryopteris and smokebush are a few that add depth and texture to shared landscapes. As you look at your autumn garden this year, check out your borrowed views and maybe add a few echoes of your neighbor’s colorful specimens in your own plantings next spring.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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