Borrowed Views

I was walking in the Chicago Botanic Gardens at the end of the summer and came across a sign that said “Borrowed Views.”  The phrase captured my interest – it’s a great term.  The sign explained that the gardeners had planted trees and shrubs on this hillside in order to frame a certain vista beyond the place where I stood (thereby borrowing the view).

It seemed very psychological to me (as do most ideas). I googled the term when I got home and learned that “borrowing a view” is a technique of traditional Chinese garden design that involves a feature, such as a pagoda, lake, or mountain, which is beyond the perimeter of a small garden. That feature is borrowed by highlighting it.  So the pagoda or water (or other feature from beyond) becomes the focus of a view from within the garden walls.

I like the idea.  There are all types of landscapes (ideas and viewpoints) out there.  Even when we are often confined to our own sphere/garden/town, we can admire distant views, frame them, and bring them closer to us.  We don’t have to make them our own but we can entertain the information, beauty, pleasure, whatever, that the ‘view’ offers.


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