Incorporating a natural landscape (borrowed view) into the design of your garden can be a daunting challenge…

It might surprise you that it doesn’t matter if the view beyond your garden is natural or manmade, the principles of incorporation are the same.

In this latest Successful Garden Design Show episode, international garden designer Rachel Mathews will walk you through the first two principles.

Tip 1 – Copy

In Japan incorporating the landscape beyond your garden is called ‘shakkei’ which means ‘borrowed scenery’ or ‘borrowed landscape’.

One of the best ways to make sure that the surrounding landscape works with your garden design is to copy elements of the landscape beyond. This can be visually or materially, it is a great way to blend your garden with the surrounding environment.

See how the shapes of the reeds in the image above mimic the hill shapes in the background. This continuity of shape helps link the garden with the surroundings.

And the same with the jagged outline of these Leucospermums in the Kirstenbosch Botanical garden in Cape Town – they tie in well with mountainscape behind.

Copy the following in your garden

  • Shape
  • Colours
  • Textures
  • Materials

These can all be used to mimic the surroundings. This also applies to buildings and architectural features, not just natural landscapes.

Tip 2 – Contrast

Contrasting the shapes and colours you add to your garden only really works when you’ve copied elements, so you have something to contrast against.

Look how wonderfully the shape and colour of the Marsh Butterfly Lily (Wachendorfia thyrsiflora) contrast to the surrounding plants and landscape.

This type of contrast causes feature plants to really stand out.

Tip 3 – Vision Gateways

Creating areas with lower planting at the end of the garden so that you can see through to the landscape beyond is another great way to bring the landscape into your garden. It becomes the focal point instead of things within the garden.

Want more garden design tips?

Attend Rachel’s free garden design web classes here:



Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    1 Response to "[DESIGN SHOW 27] Borrowed Landscapes – Incorporating Views into your Garden"

    • Vince Ward

      Really interesting and helpful . Thanks!

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