Garden Photo of the Day

The View From the Kitchen Window

A garden to be seen from inside

My name is Mary Murphy. I garden in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Winter can be a challenge, so while I’m dreaming of flowers, I must be content with winter views. I love snow, but it can get tiresome, so here is a little story about my kitchen window and the ice lanterns I’ve made this winter.

Much of my garden inspiration has been determined by the view from my kitchen window. I spend an inordinate amount of time there cooking and washing dishes, so it has been of the utmost importance to embellish that view.

During the growing season, it is easy to keep bushes and flowers plentiful, and annuals in pots can always be depended on. Over the years, I have planted a host of beautiful plants, starting with hostas and hydrangeas and a little red pine.

I have overlaid with daffodils, tulips, iris, lilies, roses, delphinium, and hosts of annuals ranging from nursery petunias, snapdragons, alyssum, verbena, dianthus, asters, lobelia, and more.

Peonies add to the scene.

I love to grow from seed. Bachelors buttons, cosmos, zinnias, hollyhocks (above), and sunflowers (below) are my favorites.

It seems I always have something splendid to look at while doing my chores.

Winter, however, is more of a challenge. I love snow, but it can pretty much look the same for months on end. I leave a lot of growth for winter interest, but I do miss all the color of the growing season. A bird feeder attached to the window helps by bringing bright red cardinals and chickadees to visit. All this leads up to an exciting discovery this year that has renewed my winter window interest.

Ice lanterns are my latest passion! I have had to make several batches because they keep melting. The process is easy: just fill a balloon with water and put it outside to freeze. The timing is tricky: You want to catch it when the bottom of the balloon is still unfrozen so that you can carve out space for a votive.

I discovered after a little trial and error that timed LED votives are amazing. They come on at 5:00 p.m. and turn off at 10:00 a.m. I also discovered that adding some other frozen shapes adds interest. So I used round cake pans, a couple of rectangular pans, and the pieces that broke off to add to my arrangements. It is quite a transformation for my hibernating garden pots and warms my heart from the kitchen window.

Have a garden you’d like to share?


Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/18/2019

    Love those ice lanterns! How creative.

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      thank you!

  2. sandyprowse 01/18/2019

    Mary Murphy: A delightful story and pictures. The only seeds I have luck growing are Nasturtiums but I will try those you mention. The ice lanterns and the work you have gone to with them is truly amazing. I’m off to buy balloons today!

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      Be sure to buy "helium quality" balloons!

  3. paiya 01/18/2019

    Mary, I was looking at your photos , thinking that, with all the gorgeous flowers that you see from your kitchen window, probably you don’t want to leave the kitchen and youdo a lot of cooking. But I wondered what you would look at during winter-and then saw your amazing ice-lanterns! Brilliant!!

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      it is hard to go to work sometimes, I'd rather stay home with my view!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/18/2019

    Hi, Mary, I really enjoyed your story and pictures from throughout the year Your ice lanterns certainly give a delightful effect. I can well imagine how nice it is to have come up with something that keeps your creative gardening juices flowing during the cold winter months. I know how important a certain view from inside the house can be. Mine is from where I sit at the kitchen table and it means the world to me to look up and out and be happy with it.

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      thank you, it's obvious you "understand'!

  5. cheryl_c 01/18/2019

    Mary, I sense a kindred spirit! I also have a very special view from my kitchen that changes all year - but I've never thought of ice lanterns. It would seem that our freezer would expedite the process and give a bit more consistency to the timing of the freeze... Fortunately,, at least so far this winter, our freezing temps are happening only at night, but when they last longer, I'll try your idea. A nice round mixing bowl sounds like it might work...

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      I just put the filled balloon in a plastic "Noodles" takeout container and put outside. Then I check every six hours or so. If you wait too long and it freezes solid, it's almost impossible to carve out space for the votive.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 01/18/2019

    I agree, the kitchen window view is important, and I really enjoyed your photos and the ideas you shared here! Creative and beautiful! I only have a few feet of land in front of my kitchen window and it gets no sun, so if you have any ideas please let me know. All I can think of is to add a window box one day.

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      There are some shade tolerant hydrangeas and clematis if you can put in a trellis. Lots of annuals like begonia and impatients do well in shade. Hosta will grow anywhere!

      1. User avater
        simplesue 02/17/2022

        Murphymk1...I just found your plant advice for my kitchen window like 2 1/2 years later! Glad I saw it- Thanks for your suggestions!...wish Fine Gardening had a message alert here.

  7. Musette1 01/18/2019

    Mary, I have a similar 'kitchen window' view (minus the Very Cool Lanterns and the Very Cool Feeder) - it really helps keep me sane this time of year. What you've done to combat our extreme Midwest Winter weather is stellar!!! Those lanterns are amazing!!! And.....omgosh! That Hollyhock! Ours are devoured by Japanese Beetles (Central IL is awash in them, come July) so I've quit trying but the one you've grown might just change my mind....

    Question re the window feeder - do you have the reflective film on your window? I'd love to do that but my birds are so skittish - how have you managed that?

    And, before I forget, THANK YOU for sharing all your garden gorgeousness with us!

    1. murphymk1 01/18/2019

      Thank you! No I don't have anything but the feeder on the window. I do also have a hanging feeder close by so maybe they see from one to the other. The birds are hungry and come immediately when I fill the feeders. The one on the window us called "the window cafe."

  8. btucker9675 01/18/2019

    Love the ice lanterns - look like little suns warming up your view!

    1. murphymk1 01/19/2019

      Thank you! They do give the illusion of warmth.

  9. User avater
    KennethNguyen 01/23/2019

    its really wonderful

    1. murphymk1 01/23/2019

      Thank you!

  10. User avater
    SamBaker 01/23/2019

    it's really natural beauty

    1. murphymk1 01/23/2019

      Thank you!

  11. User avater
    CynthiaDow 01/24/2019

    i like it

    1. murphymk1 01/24/2019

      Yay, thx!

  12. User avater
    LouisJimenez 01/28/2019


  13. User avater
    devinkoblas 01/28/2019


  14. User avater
    MarkParker 02/02/2019


  15. User avater
    JimmyCox 02/21/2019

    i like these types of flowers

  16. User avater
    KevinHuggins 03/02/2019

    fantastic flowers

  17. User avater
    RonaldTague 03/08/2019


  18. User avater
    BenjaminShaw 04/15/2019

    Cool and nice!

  19. User avater
    LauraWilliams 05/01/2019


  20. User avater
    JohnPrice6 05/15/2019

    i like it

  21. User avater
    ArmandLewis 05/16/2019


  22. User avater
    AnnaMartinez 06/03/2019


  23. User avater
    PatrickMclaren 08/14/2019


  24. User avater
    RodgerMckinley 09/19/2019

    Very interesting post!

  25. User avater
    AshlieDPerron 10/12/2019

    Wow! it's amazing!

  26. User avater
    JakeHouck 11/09/2019

    Wow! I love yellow flowers!

  27. User avater
    AnthonyBerg 11/20/2019


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest