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The time: A couple of years ago.

The place: A 16′ x 21′ terrace crammed

between the ugly backs of four

Manhattan buildings.

The host: Well, there wasn’t one—interior

designer Miles Redd rarely ventured

behind his town house. But all of that

changed when he recast the dreary spot as

a dreamy paradise of furniture and flora—

a well-appointed open-air living room.

For the lively gatherings

that Redd throws for friends and family,

he painted the existing rough wooden

planks in a bold harlequin scheme (the

bird’s-eye view from an upstairs window

only underscores the graphic appeal)

that plays off the black-and-white

floor in his adjacent kitchen. “Making a

garden is a lot like decorating a room,”

he says. “Get your walls and floors right,

and you can try anything

An outdoor drawing

room more than a garden,

the space is decorated with

a relaxed mix of furniture.

Redd eschewed overused teak

standards in favor of more

interesting lines of metal and

mirror. Pots of common myrtle,

from the Mediterranean, are

clipped into large ball topiaries

A bust of Diana, the virginal Roman

goddess of hunting, is the star: “A garden needs

a sense of ornament,” Redd says. He picked the

entourage of potted plants as carefully as he

would a chair or fabric for an interior, enlisting

nurseryman Ken Selody (atlockfarm.com) to

help him select eye-catching forms and textures,

from prim boxwood to jagged cactus and an

unusual raised “lawn” of grassy liriope that would

grow easily in his garden. Exotic sago palms in

pots add eccentricity before the stilt hedge

of hornbeam trees, neatly housed in a formal

style of wood planters called Versailles boxes

that have been pushed together to form a wall.

The hedge is clipped to the outlines made by the
overhead framework of blue-painted bamboo

Setting the table is “a lot like

getting dressed in the morning,” Redd

says. “I think, ‘Who am I going to be

today?’ and go from there.” Here, he

was inspired by the tones of a striped

agave cactus to make a tablescape of

cool blues and sunny shots of citrus.

Sprigs of lemon verbena and small

potted boxwood are a pleasant break

from flower arrangements. The large

circular table accommodates a seated

dinner for eight or can hold a buffet

for many more guests.

The trompe-l’oeil trellis (Redd

attached custom panels at either side

of the garden) provides the formerly

depressing corner with the cultured air

of a French conservatory. Mirrors, behind

the woodwork and on the coffee table,

reflect sun in dramatic ways, distracting

the eye from the surrounding plain

brick walls—and even the small barred

window of a neighbor’s apartment.

Part visionary, part ringleader,

Redd orchestrates a tableau vivant of family,

friends and colleagues. Clockwise from upper left:

his employee Amanda Gentilcore, Redd, sister

Sarah McCain, plant expert Ken Selody, employee

David Kaihoi and friend Kara Dusenbury. The

town-house facade is lined with vigorous whiteflowering

moonflower vines, which climb up

wires attached to the masonry.