Eye windows make garden walls more friendly

There is something appealing about garden walls with windows – just as there is about houses which smile at you. The photograph shows the same windows, looking in and looking out. It is pleasant for the gardeners to be able to look on the street and it makes the wall a more friendly structure.

15 thoughts on “Eye windows make garden walls more friendly

  1. eljardinero

    Such windows seem to have been an integral part of Spanish gardens through the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. A beautiful example is the side garden at the Casa de las Torres in Tembleque, Province of Toledo (the wall remains, the garden has gone), or an earlier example at the Palacio del Marques de Santa Cruz in El Viso del Marques, Province of Ciudad Real (garden modern classical).

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    Can you point us to a photograph of the Casa de las Torres in Tembleque?
    An interesting thought is that when noble families lived in castles the ladies looked out from wall-walks (allures) on the battlements. When these features went out of fashion, walks were made in what we call ‘formal gardens’ with the aim of allowing safe views of the outside world. But when gardens were walled it became necessary to have terraces, mounts and windows to permit ‘views of the beyond’.

  3. Tom Turner Post author

    Thank you for the link to a super set of photographs. My thoughts are (1) how sad it is that courtyard housing is no longer typical of the Mediterranean (2) Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an interesting choice of music. Sheila Whiteley says it “draws strongly on contemporary rock ideology, the individualism of the bohemian artists’ world, with rhapsody affirming the romantic ideals of art rock.” Yet it fits.

  4. Christine

    Yes for women it seems there is a small distance between protection and confinement in architecture. The monastic tradition exemplifies something of this dichotomy in the ideal of flight from the world…which began to be diversified as a form of religious expression by the mystics in the middle ages. [ http://www.jstor.org/stable/3170288?seq=1 ]

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    I much admire the monastic tradition and, not wanting to be TOO cynical have often wondered if it is not a wonderful way of accommodating the homosexual tendency in human populations. Gays have a particular need for protection – from bigots of all kinds.

  6. christine

    I am not sure if what you are saying is that if a population is of a single gender that this indicates homosexual behaviour is present? (ie there must be sexual activity)?

  7. eljardinero

    Protection and confinement/protection and oppression. Closely linked, even overlapping themes. What relevance for conservation and ecology, garden design and maintenance? Gilles Clément writes somewhere (and I can’t find the quote right now) about nature laughing about important powerful men deciding how to save and protect her.
    The climate of central Spain is continental/false steppe and so, although the gardens of Toledo may share a common heritage with those of the southern Spanish coast, I would hesitate before grouping them under the adjective mediterranean.

  8. Tom Turner Post author

    1) One relevance for garden design it the almost self-contradictory idea of a ‘Public Garden’. In Germany I think too many historic gardens are managed as public parks – though I also think that many ‘communal’ public spaces in Germany are very much better managed than their UK equivalents.
    2) ‘Nature’ will outlive man by a laughably long period of time. But ‘Man’ is likely to be responsible for the extinction of too-many species before taking his own exit.
    3) I was thinking of ‘Mediterrean’ in climatic and cultural terms (rather than geomorphological terms) and I think it was a combination of these factors which led to the ‘outward view’ idea – which is not associated with Celtic/Germanic traditions.

  9. eljardinero

    Public garden is a lovely phrase. Every public garden should be replete with a public convenience. As far as Germany is concerned the problem is far more that pragmatism, practicality and order are higher on the list of cultural priorities than fantasy, imagination and freedom. Very many private gardens in Germany are managed as public parks.
    Isn’t the point that “Man”, contrary to the Genesis anthropocentric viewpoint, is also only a pawn? I like the image of the fat lady singing, handbag full of extinct species, heading for the exit.
    I just want to make a plea for the continental steppe garden as a category in its own right. Difficult to think of a garden designer who has grasped the full richness of this “mestiza”. Not sure that the inward/outward cultural definitions are as fixed as we imagine. Windows in walls being the most relevant example.

  10. Tom Turner Post author

    Wiki Commons has a not-very-good photo of a steppe garden and to me the term contains a degree of self-contradiction, as would ‘nomadic settler’. This is because the steppes are open and unbounded while a ‘garden’ is essentially bounded. But ‘steppe planting‘, ‘prairie planting‘ does have a clear logic and I guess it is not too far removed from the Wildflower Meadows that William Robinson loved. One can see in the Eyes a reconciliation of the settlers’ instincts with the nomads’ instincts.
    That is a great image of ‘the fat lady singing, handbag full of extinct species, heading for the exit’ – has someone tried to draw it?

  11. Tom Turner Post author

    If I was going to be the last Dodo, or in fact any Dodo, and had to spend my time imprisioned in a zoo then I would be a good deal more miserable than Trugernannerthe Last Tasmanian. I admire her proudly defiant stare.


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