Looking Through Glass

There is nothing wrong with the glass on your screen. Do not attempt to adjust the image.

For the most part, we experience our gardens as pictures seen through the windows, the eyes of the house. It’s easy, as a gardener, to forget this because we spend so much time in gardens. We forget about the interior perspective! We can’t see the forest for the trees. A big part of what I love about gardening is that when I’m done for the day I get to look at the end result. For me, that usually includes being in my house and going from window to window to see the effect of that work.

There are parts of my house that are over a hundred and twenty years old. I don’t know the age of my windows, but sitting at my table looking out, the world looks more than just a little warped. I always assumed that this was the result of glass getting old.

Didn’t we all learn in school that glass is a liquid and slowly flows downward over time?

That was wrong.

Like liquids, the atoms in glass are not arranged in any particular order. In liquids there are no strong forces kind holding the molecules together. This is what allows the molecules to move around, flow and do all of those things that we associate with liquids. Glass is different because it’s molecules are held together by strong chemical bonds. These bonds make glass extremely rigid and stop it from flowing. Ever..

…..or until you heat it up.

Old glass gets its appearance from the way it was made.

Up until the early 1900’s windows were made of blown glass. The oldest and now most rare method was crown glass. The short (and incomplete) description of this process is that the glass maker would blow a bubble. That bubble would then be collapsed and  spun in a furnace to stretch it into a large disc that could then be cut into windows. This technique creates ripples in the glass.

The other type of blown glass windows [the kind I have] is called cylinder glass. This method could produce larger windows. A bottle shape would be blown and then both ends would be cut off, creating a cylinder. This cylinder would then be cut lengthwise and opened up to lay flat. This method creates faint parallel lines in the glass.

The effect is a little like being underwater! Every motion creates new worlds, real and imagined.

Welcome to my aquarium house!

As I move my head from one side to the next, the world wobbles and ripples. My garden is doing a little shimmy-sashay dance. It’s actually not a bad way to entertain oneself on a rainy day. At least I think that’s rain. I’ve been wrong before looking through these old windows….


I would like to dedicate this blog post to Sue Estes who was a very special client of mine. I’ll miss you and our visits. You are now free to move and flow.  R.I.P. March 14, 2017.


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