When the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society asked designer Karen Regan of Tallulah&Bird to create a pop-up warm weather garden on a vacant South Street lot, she imagined how the public gathering space would feel if it had developed organically over time. The temporary installation for special events, as well as sampling food and drinks from local vendors, is only open from June until October of this year. Regan began the design process in the dead of last winter to prepare for a quick 24-day installation during the month of May. With help from Jeff Regan of Regan Construction (also her husband), she was able to reuse found treasures like barn wood, old factory parts, and vintage receptacles from flea markets in new ways.
As the garden’s infrastructure developed, Karen played in the dirt, carefully deciding where each plant would go, and potting up vessels to create a bohemian atmosphere. She devised a series of smaller, more intimate environments within the site’s large open expanse, which include a central trellised pavilion, covered cabanas, a private cottage, wine bar, and long picnic table seating under quaint market lights. While utilizing interior layout principles in some of these outdoor living spaces for maximum comfort, the exterior rooms are constantly changed by living, growing plants. In this way, returning visitors are encouraged to discover new details or engage with different zones at each visit. As for the style of her latest project, Karen describes the concept as petit a petit l’oiseau fait son nid, or, “little by little the bird builds its nest.” It’s her dream of a secret garden for everyone in the heart of the city. —Annie