Garden for a Modern Pavilion

I was pleased to see a garden I had recently worked on featured in the fall issue of Home and Design Magazine. My involvement in the garden began when director Elliot Rhodeside of my firm, Rhodeside & Harwell, introduced me to a long-time friend and client of his. The client had hired local architect Robert Gurney to design a modern pool house for his Bethesda home. Elliot had designed several phases of the garden several years before and oversaw all aspects of this garden design.

Robert Gurney is a celebrated modernist architect. For this project, he created a jeweled glass and stone pavilion to sit atop a new swimming pool. The old pool was ripped out and a new pool was created to connect the house and pavilion. Gurney sensitively sited the pavilion as far back against the existing woods as possible to ground the structure in vegetation.

The existing planting beds did not relate at all to the new structure, so our challenge was to blend the pavilion into the landscape and the woodland behind it. To that end, Elliot and I enlarged the planting bed and focused on a palette of perennials and grasses to create a foreground for the pavilion. The planting also had to blend the orthogonal geometry of the pool and pavilion with the more curvilinear geometry of the existing lawn. To add structure to the garden, clusters of boxwoods were added at key corners. These clusters will eventually grow together and be clipped into gumdrop shapes. Behind the pavilion, we planted a grove of Stewartias with Palm Sedge grass (Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme’). We wanted to intensify the feeling of woods immediately behind the pavilion.  Elliot suggested the row of columnar Magnolia 'Alta' that flanks the fenceline along the pool.  These stately trees draw screen the neighboring property and draw the eye toward the pavilion.

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