As much as I love the city, the country is where I recharge. Lucky for me there’s some pretty spectacular countryside in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia. I saw some greenery yesterday when I drove about 30 miles outside of the city to go to Terrain, Urban Outfitters’ garden center concept. As far as I know, it’s the only one in the country, and I thought you guys might want to see it.
Of course, you can shop on Terrain’s website, but so much of what Urban does really well is creating an environment that transports people and tells a gorgeous story—whether it’s the story of a gritty, slightly dirty, too-cool-for-school twenty-something hipster or that of a down-on-her-luck heiress who’s been banished to the French countryside where she wears the most fetching dresses and collects drawer pulls. The story, the sheer romance of it all, is how they can sell soap next to a special order Australian Tree Fern (want!).
And despite knowing all this, I thought at first I might be disappointed. Terrain at Styer’s, as the brick and mortar is called, is right off a busy highway in the midst of upscale strip malls (DSW and Bubbles Hair Salon are a stones throw away).
As soon as I walked up the little (gravel, of course) path toward the entrance, though, I realized that the nursery, the shop, and the cafe that comprise Terrain at Styer’s are designed so that they create a wonderful little haven. The buildings all look like sheds or barns and are filled with the most gorgeous light fixtures, farm tablescapes, terrariums, and books. You’ll also find lovely scarves and soaps, tulip bulbs, and a vast array of Weck canning supplies.
The nursery is also nice, but as this is a little like walking around a foreign country I’ve visited a lot but where I don’t speak the language, I can’t really comment on anything other than appearance. It was pretty. My impression is it has a medium to smallish selection of plants, but don’t quote me on that. It’s also fall, so that’s a factor.
But we’re not here to buy a fruit tree (50 percent off now), we’re here for the story. We’re here to be seduced by lovely angel hair ferns that spill over shelves like a lush carpet, by raw cotton stalks woven into holiday wreaths, by the heiress’ discarded settee, a large hole in the upholstery of which now serves as a planter for a happy coterie of succulents. We’re here to be transported, and Terrain doesn’t disappoint.
Additional reading: Here’s an article about Urban Outfitters founder Dick Hayne and how he came up with the idea for Terrain.