WELCOME TO The Outsider, Brownstoner’s weekly garden column, written and produced by Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Sunday at 8AM.


THIS GARDEN BEGAN as an outline on a napkin, sketched out by the homeowner. “The client is an architect and had very strong ideas about what he wanted,” says Sasha Newman of Little Miracles Designs, who was hired to turn the concept into a finished design and then to oversee fabrication and installation.

The round central structure, made of Corten steel, serves two functions; it acts as a retaining wall to hold up soil and support plantings, and also provides convivial seating for a group. It was Newman’s inspiration to use Corten for the structure, rather than the stone the client originally had in mind. “A thick wall would have been visually too heavy for a rectangular backyard 18-20′ wide,” he says. Instead, he suggested the material popularized by the sculptor Richard Serra and by its use on the High Line — an alloy that doesn’t rust through, but merely oxidizes on the surface for a coppery patina.

The garden is designed to be viewed from all levels of the house. Plantings were informed by contemporary currents in American landscape design, using primarily foliage plants that don’t rely on floral color but whose interest comes from contrasting combinations of texture. The garden is also, says Newman, “as close to zero maintenance as you can get.”

Details and more photos, including construction shots and a complete plant list, after the jump.

Photos: Sasha Newman