After reading Away to Garden’s post on the viewscapes (viewsheds) of the Hudson Valley, some of the questions about our landscape views… such as “Perhaps you know of some to share, or some you never want to lose?” and “Are there views you treasure (or things you want to hide)? What scenery are you borrowing as part of your individual garden pictures?” made me want to sit and consider this a bit.
The phrase I was more familiar with, “borrowing views”, was one that many of the English garden authors I loved to read would invoke. I like the thought, but I don’t depend upon it.
Life is too transitional, and one has less control than is comfortable to think about. We should try to preserve the natural pictures of beauty around us, but that is a battle. And battle strategies are beyond the scope of this post.
Instead, I can consider my own views from beyond the garden, and some that I have fallen in love with from other places.
In my own present garden I live in the midst of flatland farm fields. When farmers answered the call of America’s desire to be breadbasket of the world, the trees were cut down in multiples on land such as this. It creates a clear vista dotted with small vestiges of woods or the oasis of a few trees around a farmhouse and barns. There are times I have regretted the flat and plain look of this landscape, but then there are times I have greatly appreciated the unmarred expanse of sunsets where to the west my view is the least encumbered. (I have a neighbor near to the east.) I see rain coming from a long ways away. I have a horizon that rivals those seen by the seaside.
There are few power lines, and few houses to crowd my garden’s serenity. I can look up through trees to the sky, and outward to the fields of corn and soybeans. The vernacular style of garden here is the straightforward rows of vegetable and cutting garden flowers, but I couldn’t conform to that. Instead my garden has been a counterpoint of wild cultivation in the midst of ordered crop rows. It is wilder still in its present decayed metamorphosis. I close myself in from too much order and invite the better kept homes of strict Mennonite sensibilities to be a view through selected openings of my trees and bushes.
What do I look like to them? A rather Hillbilly gardener, I suspect…with too many random trees and yard dotted with large bushes, something like junk cars to anothers eye, I suppose. My beloved bushes and trees a jungle in the middle of nowhere! I am the city, the hills, come calling on the rural folk, and deciding to stay and make my mark. I don’t expect that my rural flatland will remain unpocked by more city and suburban encroachings… and that is a pity, really, because I have come to appreciate the peaceful and simple look and living of the rural farmlands of Ohio.
I’ve seen so much that is worth saving torn away for “progress sake” and seen that despite the protests there was little that could be done, but I am sure there are some successes… and those are worth the fight. Like Battlefields around Nashville, Tenn. , or areas that are left of Lake Erie shore (precious few of those!). The natural beauty that I saw on Maui, despite the need for development, shows that people do love and appreciate their view. One thing I loved there was the fact that the shoreline and beaches belonged to the people… and no hotels could completely block access. Here in central Ohio, the older parts had parks set aside- something present day developers don’t do. But a beautiful park adds a scene, a place to enjoy nature and receive the type of restfulness of mind that only a green space can give.
I mentioned Southern Ohio, the “Old Man’s Cave” area. The views there are of the hills and hollers all wooded and cool, with winding roads going past rustic houses and bracken covered woodland floor rising up right from the roadside.
The rivers of Ohio are a viewshed, with ghostly sycamores banding on either side of the banks. Too many are closed off by private holdings, but where openings are there to the riverside, a girl could go to read her books in the crook of a tree bending over the river. It is something we should provide for our posterity. Such a place is a library of learning that competes with marbled halls. The river going by slowly and the meditation of the time causing the mind to expand.
These are a few thoughts on viewsheds that have meant much to me.