This stately home at Portledge, Bryn Mawr, PA, is a landscaping project by HESS Landscape Architects. It was originally designed by architect Horace Trumbauer; but with the additions of pool, pool house, and enhanced landscaping, it’s been transformed. In harmony with the English Georgian dwelling already in place, a new glass mosaic tile pool and white brick pool house show complementary elements in style and motif. Starting from the house’s back French doors with their informal “arbor” of interlaced branches overhead, paving stones now meld into a pattern of terra-cotta and white stone in a symmetrical layout. The path circumnavigates the pool, then leads through a formal shrubbery garden to a carriage-style outbuilding, equipped with space for storage of maintenance equipment.
In the back of the pool house is a surprise: a “secret” garden where perennials and an antique fountain are the backdrop for pieces of the owner’s art collection. Graceful symmetry abounds; on either side of the pool, fresh white umbrellas and inviting loungers provide a comfortable vantage point for appreciating the gardens. Both pool floor and the accompanying outdoor shower bear mosaics in blues and sand tones, with curved corner ornaments that mimic the tops of columns on house and pool buildings. Edging the pool is lavish greenery: ornamental shrubs and trees as a border, colorful flowers in deckside beds and ceramic planters. These careful details make the newer additions seem to have “always” been there, right alongside the original — landscaping and exterior art at its best.