THE CANVAS: Modern architecture, woodland surroundings, garden-variety front yard
THE PALETTE: Rusty bluestone, stained concrete, granite orbs
THE MASTERPIECE: Industrial-chic tames the wilderness, repeated materials, harmony of different forms
Circles, rectangles and lines. This garden has all three in their purest forms.
Prior to the job, the front of the home featured a typically U-shaped, asphalt driveway. The clients hired Susan Harrison, APLD, owner of Private Gardens Design Inc. to create a new courtyard to greet their guests and provide privacy for every day. The area is perfect for al fresco dining or as a play space for the homeowners’ three children.
The modern house
The couple’s tastes run toward the modern, so landscape designer Harrison decided on a streamlined, industrial look for the patio and waterfeatures.
Just outside the front door, she placed a minimalist fountain. It wouldn’t have many flourishes, but Harrison thought it should follow a path. “Water needs to have a source; it needs to have a journey and an outlet, as it does in nature,” she says.
As a starting point, Harrison chose an orb to be put inside the fountain’s demilune basin. She also placed a series of movable granite spheres of descending size in the courtyard.
“The clients are fans of art and we wanted to develop space in the courtyard for sculpture,” she says. They are heavy enough to stay in one place, but light enough for the children to roll around. The couple rearranges the spheres seasonally.
At the other end of the courtyard, Harrison installed a tile water wall. Its verticality contrasts with the low-lying rill and orb arrangement to provide drama. To tie it in with the home’s interior, she used the same tile found above the kitchen sink — a luminescent glass mosaic in shades of white, beige and brown.
To create the journey Harrison mentioned, she designed one stream of water to bring together two highly different fountains. Water travels through the first rill, disappears underneath the bluestone decking, emerges into the second rill and pours into a small pool that feeds the waterfall.
Rills were commonplace in gardens of the 16th and 17th centuries, and Harrison updated the look with a design that follows the joint lines of the pavers in severe 90-degree angles.
She kept the landscaping minimal to add drama. “I wanted the water to stand alone as an element,” Harrison explains. “So I didn’t put in a bunch of plants. I used [some] only for fragrance.”
The waterfall sits where most of the entertaining and relaxing will take place. At this final destination, Harrison made more liberal use of softscape and filled the area with bamboo and roses.
The end product made the couple feel right at home. The husband, who is a plastic surgeon, even commented that the zig-zagging rills reminded him of the sutures he uses on his patients.