Xanadu 5: The Berry Folly
Because the property didn’t offer views into abutting land, especially when looking out from the pool-house’s dining terrace, the impressive vista down the length of the swimming pool needed to be stopped with something—anything—of sufficient gravitas, size, & beauty to warrant being such an interruption. The client’s desire to grow “soft fruits”—berries such as raspberries, grapes, & blueberries—provided the solution: A permanent cage so that the crop couldn’t be foraged by birds.
But in such a supremely focal spot, this couldn’t be just a cage. It needed to be a “folly”—a fanciful structure that captures the view. It’s size, location, & construction were only part of the appeal. In a coup de theatre, the structure also hosts a large installation of illuminated blown glass across the underside of its roof. See that in the magazine coverage here.
- Even in a project overflowing with sui generis elements, the Berry Folly is unique. In this aerial shot, it's the enormous meshed structure to the left of the pool.
- Seen from the grassy rectangle, the scale of the Berry Folly is even more impressive. The structure is about fifteen feet high, twenty deep, & forty long. While, yes, the height matches that of the even-more-enormous shade structure at the right—and both are the height of the first-floor beams of the poolhouse, which is three feet above their grade—the real thrill of the lofty height of the Berry Folly is revealed only at night.
- The berry folly, seen from across the pool (whose protective cover is in place). To the left, the cutting garden & cup-plant hedge. The young orchard between them and the caretaker's house also extends the length of the berry folly. A pair of beds of maximally-vivid & textural shrubs, perennials, & ornamental grasses separates the pool from the berry folly. Looking closely, you can see a section of the lengthy curved walkway between the beds & the folly. To the right, it originates up the hill at the main house; to the left, it sweeps through the grass rectangle, to terminate in a hidden circular patio in the pink-friendly garden outside the enclosure.
- Looking lengthwise through the Folly during construction. Its four sets of huge doors are yet to be hung, so the view through to the beds of the cutting garden is clear.
- Looking lengthwise, the other direction, to one of the three golden metasequoias that are now forty feet tall.
- The construction of the Berry Folly needed to be originally from whole-cloth. The wood frame needed to be permanently meshed, with a material that was durable but also of a precise grid: too small to permit access to birds, but large enough for the pollinating bees. The solution? Stainless steel mesh with a one-inch grid.
- If the grid of the stainless-steel mesh were even a half-inch bigger, hungry birds could gain access. If it were only slightly smaller, pollinating bees could be thwarted, and the berry plants would be barren. One inch turned out to be the sweet spot.
- Seen from the rear, in the midst of the young orchard outside the enclosure. Diagonal braces were left in place for several years, in hopes (well-founded nearly ten years on) that the Folly would have settled into climate-proof solidity. Cutting beds between the back face of the Folly (which faces south) and the enclosing fence are for lilacs, peonies, & large dahlias. All three bear luscious flowers, but are miserable-to-look-at plants.
- Seen from the side in August, when the cup-plant daisies are full-on. In bright sun, the Berry Folly is a shimmering mystery.
- The east face of the Berry Folly as seen from the cutting garden.
- The fecundity of the growth in the Berry Folly surprised even me. The supporting cages were extended upwards another four feet!