Sometimes, with designing gardens, the impossible is possible. All it takes is creativity and innovation.
When the owner of a Marina district residence asked landscape architect Penny Magrane of Magrane Associates for a pool in his backyard, Magrane at first was skeptical.
A pool in a landfill area? “There isn’t any way we can give you a pool in the Marina,” she thought.
But Magrane, who has 30 years of experience in the field, ran tests anyway. The double lot turned out to be a property in the Marina that had enough structural integrity to be engineered as a floating aquifer in the marine fill.
The pool, a centerpiece of the garden, was completed.
The owner then asked for complete privacy.
“Everything had looked right into his garden,” says Magrane, “It was like a fishbowl if you stepped out of the house.”
Magrane transformed the property in a day. In eight hours, her crew planted a row of 30-foot ficus nitida trees that became an instant screen, shielding the yard from neighboring apartment houses and a busy corner.
Responding to the owner’s request for mature foliage in what had primarily been an open lot, Magrane solved the problem immediately.
The next day, Magrane craned in 100-year old olive trees, their leaves silver-umber, to add grace and “lovely green vegetation” to the garden.
The owner, a sailor, sought an “indoor-outdoor experience” with outside entertaining space.
Magrane added an egress from the kitchen, constructed an adjoining outdoor terrace that overlooks the garden and built steps that drop down to the pool and spa.
Planted foliage was transformed during a recent renovation that added dramatic swaths of color — primarily dark green, silver and burgundy.
Black mondo grass houses two sculptured lions which stand guard by one of 13 majestic olive trees. Rhododendron, hydrangeas and groupings of Japanese maples add color.
Lime-rickey, a chartreuse ground cover, contrasts with razzleberry, while red phormium in pots, campanula and liriope bloom beside silver-gray geraniums. White-blooming potato plants circle the arbor in this space, which is both sophisticated and transformative.