Gardens Illustrated December 2007 Posted on December 1, 2007

I have always wanted to play the mirror-trick somewhere in my garden. It is something I associate with town gardens; well-used, a mirror can startlingly expand a tiny space. My son tucked a mirror in a picture frame on a wall behind the serpentine stems of a climbing hydrangea, doubling and drawing attention to their hairy snaking on a background, confusingly, of sky. what can reflection bring to bigger spaces? For one thing, it can bring light.

Here at Saling Hall we are making a new vista that calls for an eye-catcher at each end. One end has a spy-hole in a wall opening on to a pond with a tall jet of water. The other has nothing except a wall of dusty ivy perpetually in shade.

I fetched down from the attic and hung it in the ivy at the end of the axis, facing the spy-hole. It instantly drew attention to the symmetry of the arrangement – but too brightly; and it is hard to walk by without seeing yourself reflected. It provided the answer, though: what I need is not brilliance, but a mere suggestion of light. A window in fact; or rather a dummy window stuck to the wall with glass that reflects light but no clear image. It will suggest that the woodshed wall is somthing more interesting and motivate wanderers to try my new path. Now what shall I plant along it to reward them?

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