Bold and Beautiful
Society Hill
(Philadelphia County) PA

Strong forms and colors set the stage in this arresting garden.

The owners of a contemporary
home in one of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods came to Composite, craving a garden that would be provocative and fuctional. They wanted an outdoor room - a combination of art and landscape - that would be unlike any other in the city.

Inspired by the work of architect Luis Barragan, but unsure how to translate the spirit of his work into a functional - and buildable - space, the owners turned to Landscape Architect Michael LoFurno. He developed a plan that would bring drama, color, and boldness to the uninteresting space. Bold plantings and a dramatic water feature are complemented by modern paving, all set within a boldly geometric framework of concrete walls. This truly three-dimensional space transports the owners and their guests to a different plane, one that is surreal and yet grounded by the natural materials that comprise it.

Concrete walls of deep blue, rust, salmon, and wheat are set at right angles to each other. A portal in the longest wall allows the eye (and a stream of lilyturf) to penetrate it. Plantings chosen for their sculptural qualities are set against the strongly-colored backgrounds -- the peeling cinnamon bark of river birch against the deep blue, robust yet graceful black bamboo against the rust, and monstrous maroon-leaved canna against the salmon. A built-in masonry seatwall provides extra seating adjacent to the dramatic water feature. A laminar flow of water cascades from a height of four feet into the sunken pool, splashing onto granite cobblestones - a graceful nod to the historicity of the home's location. Concrete pavers unify the space with their neutral tan color.

Composite Inc. welcomes the opportunity to experiment with new approaches to garden design. While this garden may not be for everyone, it does complement the architecture and the tastes of its owners. It tells a story and it is a memorable one. Thanks to Luis Barragan for his inspiration.

Composite Inc provides landscape design and construction services for projects that range from intimate gardens to large-scale developments and greenways.

Beautiful Beautiful

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