OUTDOOR DESIGN - Strong Geometry And Use Of Color

From the back of the house with its patio space, wide stairs lead down to the yard and pool.


 A tiled roof, stucco finish and decorative arches lend a California feeling to this Mediterranean-style property in Alexandria. The owners asked landscape designer Morgan Washburn of Botanical Decorators to create outdoor spaces that would complement their home’s minimalist interiors, provide plenty of entertaining space and suit the needs of their active family.

At the front entry, squares of dwarf mondo grass are interspersed among pavers.


Washburn devised an innovative, contemporary design, locating a pool at the rear of the long, narrow lot and renovating an old garage to serve double duty as a pool house and space for cars. An upper terrace of Turkish travertine seamlessly connects indoor and outdoor rooms, while gracious, wide steps descend to the garden level.


A fireplace is built into the circular stucco wall adjoining a patio at the right edge of the lawn.


An open, elliptical lawn conceals a cistern underneath that catches rainwater from downspouts and feeds the garden’s irrigation system. A curved stucco wall on one side of the lawn houses a built-in fireplace; upright yews in surrounding beds will eventually hide most views of the pool, lending a mysterious air to the rear of the property.


A yew hedge and colorful plantings surround the lawn.


Washburn considers “very strong geometry and monochromatic plantings” to be the highlights of the design. Cool plantings—Annabelle hydrangeas, blue salvia, agapanthus and blue hostas—surround the pool. In contrast, the ellipse garden contains a warmer palette of oranges, yellows and salmons, while up near the house, the colors are bolder still, with overflowing containers of red ivy geraniums. Washburn included a large planting of herbs on the upper terrace—thyme, basil and a hedge of rosemary—to lend a Mediterranean touch in line with the home’s architectural character.

A hedge of arborvitae screens the pool from the neighboring property.

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