The Garden at Elayne Place


Moving into a new building with a spectacular backyard view of an “eye-catching” utility corridor resplendent with a rat’s nest of power lines, the back of buildings staring down on you, and adjacent buildings encroaching on your views presents certain, shall we say . . . opportunities.

In order to take on a site like this we needed to dust off the box of awesome and get to work partnering with our client to imagine a bold and audacious new space.

We knew our client had just moved from a New England estate with a proper garden and outdoor living space into this multi-level lifestyle. Taking the site conditions for what they are, she expressed a yearning for a backyard reminiscent of her east coast home. So, we took this spacious 30’ x 36’ footprint, which is also a garage roof top, and created ‘The Borie Wood Garden at Elaine Place.’

Walk out of the home’s first floor French doors from the kitchen onto a diamond-patterned bluestone patio with a clay paver herringbone patterned “carpet” which defines the formal outdoor dining area.

Taking visual cues from the building and our client’s imagination we created a crisp version of a gracious, and magnanimous space. The pergola and seating area rest on a raised natural stone platform surrounded by a raised u-shaped garden, all enclosed by a 6’ fence on the parapet wall. Five foot tall annual containers punctuate each wing of the garden.

Going against the trend of keeping the roof deck on one level, the pergola and seating area were raised about 30”. As one steps up the expansive stairs and arrives at the seating area, the arched pergola (12’ above the top stair level) welcomes the visitor to a central seating area with a fire table and water feature.

The pergola can best be described as having a streamlined New England essence with a touch of modern crispness based on its shape and color. Lap joints construct the lower pergola framework and minimize the visual complexity of the union points. To the delight of our master craftsman, he custom designed and built each of the 7 central arches from over 18 individual pieces and hand fit them to generate the central overhead rows.

The central overhead corridor of the pergola is defined by the stabilizing connecting bands and draws one’s eye to the central ox-eyed window and the latticed back wall. The window gently obscures the view of the utility corridor with its radiating, spoke pattern. The back drop screen, an eye-catching pattern, has 45 and 90 degree lattice panels that delightfully articulate around the window. As the visual experience returns to eye-level, it culminates at the formal water feature and re-awakens the other senses with the sound of a bubbling water fountain.

The magic of the space is felt in the planting surround. The 12’ Arborvitae on the back wall, the Roses, Hydrangeas, and other perennials, in conjunction with the water feature transports you to an entirely different space. A new space: ‘The Borie Wood Garden at Elaine Place’ by Topiarius.