HOURS spent tending the gardennever seem more worth it than when theopportunity arises to sit back, relax, andenjoy the view. But while people toil andsweat to produce beautiful flora, theyrarely give a second thought to the furniturethey place in the garden.White and plastic or wooden andcracking, garden furniture rarely rivals, oreven complements, the beauty of the garden.Richard Lacey, owner of SundanceFurniture, is trying to fill the gaps.“I started this company because I wasamazed that there’s such a wide selectionfor indoor furniture, but everybody has thesame horrible stuff foroutside,” he said. “Thereason I’m doing this isand the reason it’s beensuccessful is that thereisn’t too much competition.“The most importantthing is that it’sreally comfortable,because some of thedesigns in Costa Rica,it’s almost as if they’ve never sat in achair,” Lacey said.HE described the Sundance line as“all-weather furniture, of very good quality,”that is still aesthetically appealing.“We use a material called Prolen whichlooks and feels like real wicker or rattan,but the advantage is that unlike real rattan,it doesn’t crack,” Lacey said. “I’ve had atest set sitting outside for three years and itstill looks like new – it doesn’t lose itscolor.”Monnry Lighting and Home Accents ismarketing another alternative, furnitureconstructed from specially processed aluminium.“It’s called cold-drawn aluminium tubing,and it’s 40% stronger than regular aluminium,which can’t hold up to the weather,”said Ryan Harris, owner of Monnry.The key to outdoor-furniture buying,according to Harris, is finding a balancebetween price and quality.“You can spend a little and get nothingor spend a little more and get a 15-yearwarranty, which is a good warranty forsomething that’s going to be outdoors,”said Harris, who started stocking the aluminiumfurniture when he couldn’t findany high-quality outdoor pieces for himself.“I wanted something that was going tolast, at a good price,” Harris said.HARRIS sells pieces both off the floorand through custom manufacturing in theUnited States. He says there are more than70 designs of chairs, tables, umbrellas,sofas, and more. Customers choose thefabric, print and color.“It’s custom-made the way you wantit,” Harris said.The majority of Lacey’s customers areforeign residents, who have been snappingup the line since it wenton sale here in 2000.“People seem toreally like it,” he said.Harris concurs thatthere is a demand forhigh-quality gardenfurniture; he saidMonnry began stockingthe aluminium linein May and it sold outthat same month.“We’re really surprisedby how quick it sold,” he said.SUNDANCE Furniture is availableexclusively at the Green Turtle SouvenirShop behind the Hampton Inn in Alajuela,northwest of San José. The entire rangecan be viewed online at www.greenturtlesouvenirs.com. The more than 300 differentdesigns can be shipped all over thecountry.According to Lacey, a chair costs $40and upwards, and a table and four-chair setis $350 and up. Call Green TurtleSouvenirs at 430-0211, or visit the shop,open seven days a week.Monnry Lighting and Home Accents is300 meters north of the AMPM inGuachipelin, by the Multiplaza in Escazú,southwest of San José. According toHarris, a set with five chairs and a tablestarts at $499 and can be customized up to$10,000. It is open Monday-Saturday, 9:30a.m.-6 p.m. Call 288-2669 for more info.