A Birds Eye View

Lucky birds!

It all started with a comment by Wendy on my Sissinghurst post.  She mentioned how nice it was to get a birds eye view.  She had been commenting on the views from Vitas tower in Sissinghurst . I don’t have a tower (I wish) that I could look out and survey my garden, but I do have a roof (flat, luckily).

So, on the weekend, I climbed out and risked life and limb, in order to get you (and me) these pictures. I didn’t get to close to the edge, not sure how much weight it can support, lol.

Lets start by looking at the street, this way is north. You pull in the driveway and head to the front door. Can you see where my path is going to go, between the Emerald cedars, all along the length of the house, heading east and curving south to the front door.

This is a lovely old horse chestnut tree, we call it the Whalloping Willow after Harry Potter. It gives us a lot of privacy in the library and the master bedroom.

Just ready to make a right hand turn at the big rock.

Here is the east view.

When I sit in my front parlour and look out this is my view. This is one of only three garden views from my house. The front parlour has a lovely bay window and I have to come up with something amazing to look at from it. You can see it is a narrow spot, quite shady and backed by a very tall cedar hedge. This is the original sidewalk from the street to the front door, nobody uses it! For some reason the previous owner planted a line of maple trees to the south of the sidewalk. They are great now, but I am not sure what will happen in a few years when they get huge.

Turning to the west, (I want to save the south view to the end) you can see my driveway.

 Ignore the very large trailer in the driveway, it belongs to my neighbour and it is there temporarily. You can see it is a very large drive, I am thinking I will turn it into a parking courtyard. From the lilacs,and blue spruce (at the top of the picture, the blue spruce is hidden behind the trailer), I am planning  on bringing a hedgerow line along the street in both directions, just leaving enough room for a car to exit and enter. The last of the snow is between the pile of wood, still not cut up from the tree that blew done in the summer, you can read about it here, and the pile of wood chips that remain from the branches being chipped.

Ah, the south. This is my main garden, where it all happens. It is divided into three parts. The first on the east side, is nothing but lawn, at the moment. It is reserved for a lap pool. But right now, we call it the Croquet Lawn, guess why, because we play croquet on it, (and bocce).

The middle section has my Lime Walk,

you can see the birdbath at the end. This space will have some focal point, and there is a very young cedar hedge planted in front of the tree, so it will have a green back. There is also a shrubby tree growing from its roots, that has to be dug out.

 The Yew Garden (now just a very empty space) and the Serviceberry Allee.

The Allee is going to be extended all the way to the Kitchen Garden in the summer. You can just see the second line of yews underneath the tree.


The final third consists of the Kitchen Garden at the back with the Flora Glade between it and the garage.

And for all you doubters, who insisted the Deliverance house could not be that bad,

you were wrong!



65 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Edith Hope said,

    Dear D, Oh, this has been so interesting and, for your readers, certainly worth risking life and limb to scale the heights of your roof. Now I see exactly the overall design of the garden, and how its separate parts relate, making it much easier to imagine when you write of individual sections to know how they fit into the whole. It is, as you have discovered, even without a tower of your own, a very good exercise to be able to look down and have a bird’s eye view.

    I love the individual elements of the garden and they will, as they mature, become really exciting. I love what will clearly be the changes of mood and style, going from the very formal to the more relaxed, The Flora Glade, and the scale of each area, is I think, of a good size in relation to the whole. This will afford adequate contrast without being too busy. I love too the way in which in time the garden will be contained, enclosed, and free from the distraction of its neighbours.

    My only thought at this point, before you go further, is to consider what will be the final narrative of the garden – the way round which you will take in showing friends or visitors. I really believe that one needs to build in, through carefully sited entrance/exit points, eye-catchers, etc. etc., a natural, and yet clearly defined, transition from one ‘room’ to the next.

    I shall so look forward to seeing future progress.

    • 2

      Edith, thank you for all your comments, I really appreciate getting another perspective on it. Sometimes you are so close, you cannot see the forest for the trees as they say. I am trying to have focal points built in, so they catch your eye from another area in the garden, as soon as I can afford what I want, lol.

  2. 3

    Joy said,

    Deborah girl OMG ! I can’t believe you got that far up in the tree !!
    BUT … having said that , the vantage point is perfect and you can really SEE what is going on with your garden .. we all should have one go at least of seeing our gardens in that perspective .. well done you !!
    PS .. it is all going to turn out perfectly !
    PPSS I found London Fog hellebore .. it is in the lower garden and just foliage right now but they are all doing well and I can’t wait to see the blooms !

    • 4

      Joy, it was my roof, all my trees are huge,, with the lowest branches starting 20 feet of the ground, I am certainly not that strong. Looking forward to seeing your London Fog!

  3. 5

    Sylvia (England) said,

    It really makes a difference to see the the overview of the garden. I used Google maps when I wanted to explain my garden to someone. Very interesting comment from Edith, above, I do think she is right and something that isn’t often mentioned in design. It is easy to forget how one part of the garden relates to others. I think you have an exciting garden, lots of possibles and opportunities for fun. I think you have made a really good start and look forward to seeing it slowly develop.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    • 6

      Sylvia, a lot of the garden is still in my head, hopefully it will keep coming together. I plan on having a “Long View” from one end of the garden to the other, through all the room, picking up on a focal point at each end of the garden, (one day, lol).

  4. 7

    Your timing for the climb up was perfect. A few more weeks and we wouldn’t have been able to see it because you have soooooo many trees – lucky girl. You’ve talked so much about the gardens, it’s nice to see it in perspective and now I can see your plans. I love how the limewalk is coming along with the focal point of the birdbath at the end. And once your cedars grow in, you’ll hardly notice the Deliverance House. Used to have one of those beside me in my last house – the homeowner didn’t believe it was necessary to do ANYTHING outside – no mowing lawn, no shovelling driveway, nothing. The hedge will help.

    • 8

      Heather, that is why I did it now, even though the grass is still brown and not much is in flower (at least not stuff you could see from the roof). Once all those trees leaf out it is hard to see the ground, (and the Deliverance house, thank god)!

  5. 9

    gardeningasylum said,

    Oh Deborah, I suffer a bit from vertigo, so it was nervous-making even to look! Interesting to see your overview and plans for the future!

    • 10

      Cyndy, I didn’t get too close to the edge, I was a bit nervous as well. But, my husband and I have talked about putting chairs up on the roof, it is the only sunny spot in the garden in the summer.

  6. 11

    Laurrie said,

    Vertigo! But what a wonderful way to see the scope and dimensions of your spaces. You have a lot to work with, especially since you have such distinct spaces and mature stuff around them (the house at the back is a god awful challenge though). I can’t wait to see what unfolds as you implement your designs.

    • 12

      Laurrie, isn’t that house terrible, luckily the trees hide quite a bit of it, and the cedars will one day grow. I still have lots in mind, just need time and money, don’t we all!

  7. 13

    Barbara said,

    What a great idea. I feel like I now have a much better feel for your garden and how the parts fit together. Once those trees get leaves on them some of your interesting neighbors won’t be that visible anymore. Hope you don’t mind if I steal your idea for a post sometime, although I’ll have to make do with Google Earth or get my husband to climb a tree. Are lots of birds visiting your birdbath? Barbara

    • 14

      I would love to see your garden from the “air”, Barbara. It is so much easier to “see” what it looks like. I do get a lot of birds (and squirrels) at the birdbath.

  8. 15

    The lime walk, with the bird bath at the end, is very exciting; not for what it now shows, but for what it will become. Please keep us posted on its development.

    The kitchen garden , flora glade, and garage create a nicely balanced composition of garden and structure. The meandering but ultimately diagonal path is a clever use of visual and physical movement.

    What a relief to see the cedars along your property line. To describe your neighbor’s home as being in the style of “Deliverance”, is much too kind!

    • 16

      I am hoping to put a large urn on a plinth at the end of the Lime Walk, when finances can afford it, the birdbath is just temporary, way to small to hold the space. I just need some time, for things to grow, especially those cedars!

  9. 17

    Amazing post Deborah! Your first few pictures gave me vertigo, but then I adjusted. You are a very brave photographer!! The tree does look a lot like the whomping willow, great moniker for it. I think the courtyard driveway is going to be beautiful, and I look forward to it’s progression. The south view is gorgeous, of course, and I agree, the deliverance house really is that bad.

    I would love to see these same shots again, when the garden is in full bloom. That isn’t asking for too much, is it? 😉

    • 18

      My first few pictures gave me vertigo as well, but I also adjusted, and got closer to the edge. I have a couple of shrubs that I want to dig up and move to screen off the courtyard drive this spring. I could get up there again, (the things I do for you, lol), but I do not know how much the leaves will hide things.

  10. 19

    Thank you for risking all to bring us those photos Deborah. Good grief, I get dizzy just looking at them! Interesting idea for a post though…but I may have to leave our birds-eye views to the birds! Sorry about the Deliverance house…

  11. 21

    Elephant's Eye said,

    (We use google earth. But they haven’t updated it since we bought the plot, so we can only see the original trees, with an invisible house. I know I left it there somewhere.) Deliverance house looks rather attractive, it’s just all those overlooking windows?

    • 22

      I tried Google Earth, but all the trees really hide the garden, and it was old as well. Luckily our roof is flat. I just love the idea of all those people in the Deliverance house looking out at me, I do not wander out in my jammies!

  12. 23

    Such foresight, taking all of these shots to use as reference points as the gardens develop. Whenever I am feeling discouraged, a peek back at the “before”s lets me realize the progress being made. It will be fun to watch yours.

    • 24

      ricki, if I had been really smart, I would have taken them at the beginning. At least the garden is only three summers old, I think I should take these yearly, so I can really see the progression.

  13. 25

    How brave of you, but worth it to see the garden layout so clearly.

  14. 27

    Melissa said,

    I held my breath when I saw these photos. Worth it, knowing you got safely down. Perspective from a higher elevation is always great for designing gardens. One of my greatest pleasures in viewing my own garden is looking out my bedroom window at my west-facing bed and seeing that miraculously I got the curve just right. I love all the beds and you must take photos as they grow in so you have a visual chronology from this perspective too! (And I agree that your description of the Deliverance House is too kind, and this comes from a born and bred Southerner (Atlanta area native)).

    • 28

      Melissa, I could have taken them from the second floor windows, but it was worth getting out on the foof for that extra 10 feet. Isn’t that house hideous, grow cedars, grow!

  15. 29

    Chen said,

    Such an interesting view of your garden; your garden look very inviting even though the leaves are not out yet. Hope you will risk one more time perhaps in June ;>).

  16. 31

    Barry said,

    Hi Deborah,
    It is good to be able to get the bigger picture isn’t it? We can spend so much time, well spent though it may be, looking down at the fascinating detail in our gardens ( for you that would be looking for ‘Grumpy’). We can so easily lose track of what a fresh eye would see visiting the garden for the first time.

    • 32

      I do spend a lot of time looking down (no Grumpy, boo), luckily I miss the Deliverance house this way! I am trying to concentrate on the bones more, and then I can get some really interesting plants!

  17. 33

    Jean said,

    Deborah, What a great idea! It really gives me a much better sense of your gardens. I will not be emulating your example, though; my roof is not flat, and I’m afraid of heights. 😦

  18. 35

    Marian said,

    Great idea to look from above – when you said you had been working all weekend with no computer (thank you for your message) I immediately wondered what you had been doing – so came over to have a look and couldn’t have found a more informative post! I look forward to seeing the future seasons.

    • 36

      Marian, I am glad that you enjoyed the “view” from my roof. Even, though I feel a bit cut off without internet, it does allow me to really concentrate on the garden, when you are only there on weekends (and not even every), I really have to put all my time into it.

  19. 37

    You’re going to start a trend here. I might try to avoid joining in, because with the luck I’m currently having I WILL fall off the bloody roof. Mind you, it’d make an interesting story…

    • 38

      I hope that a trend starts, I love looking at other peoples gardens, and you really get a unique perspective looking down. Do join in, even if you break a leg, it would be a very funny story!

  20. 39

    commonweeder said,

    Deborah – Two allees! We have three Limes – but they do not an allee make. We have the Rose Walk, of course, and that is the largest part of any ‘narrative’ we might have. Actually, the Rose Walk now leads down to The Potager, so the narrative is developing. I can look down on the lawn, lawn beds and the Cottage Ornee from our bedroom window and can get a good overview from there, but I’m going to see what I can do with a ladder at the Potager. I guess your trees would hide a good part of the overview, but it would be wonderful to see these bones wearing a bit of color.

    • 40

      It sounds like you do have a narrative under development. Any chance your roof is flat, I would love to get a look down at your garden! I am going to try again in mid summer, just to see how much the leaves do hide.

  21. 41

    I am loving that bird’s eye view. Wow, what a garden.


  22. 43

    kimberly said,

    I like the bird’s eye view! It makes sense…after all, we draw a design plan from an aerial view…why not look at the real thing from overhead? I don’t have any mature trees to attempt this task, but may have to climb on the roof. If I attempt it, I’ll definitely share. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to future updates!! BTW, my sympathies re. the deliverance house!

  23. 45

    What a great view of your garden! I especially enjoyed the picture of the house next door – ha ha. I have one across the street and conveniently grew my hedge to block the view of their house! Good luck growing yours higher!

  24. 47

    Racquel said,

    A bird’s eye view indeed. Wow, you are one daring woman to climb up that high to show us your gardens from another perspective. 🙂

  25. 49

    teza said,


    This is a most interesting and innovative view of the property, which for me, helps to put everything in perspective! I am very thrilled for the progress that you have made thus far, and know, with a warm and sunny summer that you will be making new and exciting adjustments whenever time allows for you to be at KG. I am so looking forward to seeing how the flora glade comes into its own as time progresses. Do keep us briefed on ALL future developments.

  26. 51

    Well, my roof is quite steep, so I couldn’t do the same thing without hooks and ropes, but I love the view you gave us of your garden. It really does give a great perspective. The deliverance house is something to behold, or rather not behold! It looks like you have a good screen growing. I hope it grows tall! I am really looking forward to watching your garden progress.

  27. 53

    Hi Deborah, great post! I’ve always thought your garden had great bones, but to actually see it is fantastic. You have certainly made excellent use of your space. Thank goodness for cedar hedges – your neighbour’s house is *frightening*!

    Thanks for being so brave to get up there for these shots! 🙂

  28. 55

    What a great idea to get this bird’s eye view. Not sure I’d have the nerve to get up on the roof though. I did enjoy seeing the whole garden and all of your plans for it. It’s going to be amazing!

  29. 57

    Kathleen said,

    Oh, you are braver than brave to do this for us! I would be terrified to get up on my roof. I’m afraid I’d drop the camera too. It is the perfect vantage point for viewing the overall scheme of the garden tho. I love your Allee and your kitchen garden areas. You have a lot of great plans but I think it’s looking amazing already.

    • 58

      Thanks Kathleen. The first few pictures I didn’t get too close to the edge, but then I got braver. I think that I should do this every year, it will be fun to compare them.

  30. 59

    Grace said,

    Very interesting, Deborah. I need to do this! My wheels are turning… How can I scale the roof without killing myself? LOL

    I’m not familiar with the Deliverance house but my curiosity is piqued.

    Just look at all of the areas you have for planting. Fun. I look forward to seeing your progress.

    • 60

      Lots and lots of areas for planting Grace, it is hard to restrain myself from buying perennials when I need to put in the shrubs and trees first. Especially the trees, I need to screen that Deliverance house.

  31. 61

    Deborah – you’re hilarious! I love that you actually climbed up on your roof to take pictures. Fabulous. And what a vision for what lies below. You’re going to have fun filling it it and making it look like the garden in your head!

  32. 63

    Wendy said,

    Ha! How could I have missed this!! First of all, I would NOT have wanted to be responsible for any accidents!! Hundreds of garden bloggers around the world would come after me! OK, those first few photos looked positively dangerous. I practically had vertigo.

    Now, having said that, now that you’re safely back indoors, I will say that the view was great. It was neat to have the bird’s eye view – it’s really kind of puts everything in perspective. One can really see how the pieces fit together. I love what you’ve done with everything!

    • 64

      I was a bit scared with the first few pictures, didn’t get too close to the edge, but then I got more confident. I think that I should do this every spring, and I should be able to see the growth over the year, and in other seasons, if you can see through the trees.

  33. 65

    […] third most popular post ever, (about my garden) is this one. My first is this, makes sense, people want to get ideas for Christmas, who better to come to then […]

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