"We live in this garden and really enjoy relaxing here in the evening," says Davis. So effective lighting is a Pfeiffer "Get-It-Right" rule. It must be subtle and quietly illuminating, showing a pathway through the garden or accenting a garden feature like the wall fountain playing into a small fish pool. The sound of the splashing water masks the traffic noise from the street.
Simple solutions are best for first-time gardeners, who are all too easily overwhelmed in the marketplace. Outdoor furniture comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, materials, and prices, and Sheehy and Bergman decided to furnish their courtyard economically, acquiring pieces from warehouse stores. The curved metal frame that became the base for the coffee table was a chance find on household refuse day. "We hauled it home and topped it with a beautiful stone slab," notes Davis.
Small spaces demand restraint, but not when it comes to foliage and shape, which Pfeiffer deploys with painterly skill. A large-leaf Acanthus mollis occupies an eye-catching spot near the terrace dining table. The leaf of this plant-the model for classical Greek architectural ornamentation-here doubles as a cool green mass for more delicately proportioned plants. "Color," says Pfeiffer, "concerns me least. It comes and goes so quickly. Much better to stick to a muted palette of white, silver-gray, and lots of different greens." This is a sentiment that many of today's cutting-edge designers share. Flowers fade, but foliage and form are always there, providing the building materials we need to create comfortable, convivial outdoor rooms.