Magazine article Sunset

Mirror Magic

Magazine article Sunset

Mirror Magic

Article excerpt

Through the looking glass: Three ways to use reflective illusions in your garden

Imagine an opening in a garden wall. You move closer, attempt to peer through it to glimpse the leaves, flowers, and branches moving gently in the breeze on the other side. But then a person comes into view. It's you.

Startling? Perhaps. Magical? For certain. And therein lies the shimmering wonder of a garden mirror. It tricks, illuminates, and doubles the beauty.

Western gardeners are discovering the power of mirrors, using the reflective glass in creative ways in the garden; three examples are shown on these pages. On a wall, a mirror seems to expand a garden beyond its boundaries. Small mirrors can look like windows on the outside world. On the ground, a mirror is a surprisingly good substitute for a real pond, especially when you edge it with boulders and small weeping conifers or grasses.

Outdoor mirrors are installed differently than those indoors; for one thing, you need to protect the glass from moisture damage. Installation tips are on page 104.

Reflected glory

Barbara and Jack Thomas put a mirror on the wall of their Seattle garden, behind a shallow pool (above). The 4- by 8-foot mirror looks like an opening in the wall that frames a garden beyond, making the pool and patio appear twice as large as they really are. A stone lion's head, which seems to float above a potted plant, drips water into the pool. It was mounted through a hole in the mirror, drilled at a glass shop. Ivy obscures the mirror's edges, adding to the illusion.

A glacial "pool"

Water can turn a tiny garden from ordinary to interesting. Here's a way to bring the look of a small pool to a bed or border without disturbing existing roots: Build an illusory pool. In the alpine border pictured here, Sunset test garden coordinator Bud Stuckey used a mirror to create the look of a glacial lake. Among boulders and plants, he placed a 16-inch-square mirror. He masked the edges by adding a layer of smooth river rocks of varying sizes and colors to mimic a rocky beach. Low, mounding grasses such as blue fescue soften the look. The mirror reflects the sky and surrounding rocks and plants the way a mountain pool would, bouncing light throughout the space.

Installation tips

Working with mirrors

* Wear heavy leather gloves and protective glasses. …

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