A garden of Treasures

It can be difficult to create a lush tropical garden in Cayman’s harsh climate, particularly when the property is situated on the shores of North Sound.   But for the Hesters, it was a simply another challenge on the way to building their dream home.

The couple, whose three-storey home is located in the charming surrounds of Salt Creek, enlisted Andy Adapa, senior manager for landscape services at Dart Realty, to bring their garden to life–literally.

“I gave the Hesters a lot of options for the garden,” says Andy, a professional horticulturalist who oversaw Camana Bay’s rich landscaping.

“The challenge with their garden was that it is very long, but there is not much depth, so we had to create interest by playing with smaller pockets.”

Andy designed a multi-tiered garden to buffer the effects of the sea breeze and offer a seamless transition between the water and the home.

Facing the waterfront are highly salt-tolerant species, such as blue porter weed, sea lavender and argusia, which are able to withstand the harsh impact of the location.

“We planted sea lavender, ambrosia, and cordgrass,” Andy says, “A lot of native plants that are salt tolerant and don’t need much upkeep.”

The first layer of the garden seems to progress naturally from the waterfront, the sandy grounds and muted greens conjuring images of a remote, deserted island. The salt-tolerant section provides protection to the second tier of garden, shielding the flowering plants from the constant sea breeze and heavy salted air.

Small coral stone features are used to create texture and interest, while providing physical demarcations throughout the garden. From an aesthetic level, it is difficult to discern the change in environments, but it is integral to the function, and overall design, of the scenery.

“We used a lot of flowering plants in the next phase of the garden,” Andy explains of the section that surrounds the pool.

It brims with colour, vibrant shades of purple, gold, and ruby sparkling against the deep blue of the water.

Large poincianas, dripping with flowers, create a canopy of shade, ensuring that even in the height of summer, there is space to relax or entertain without enduring the elements. A quaint stone path weaving through the garden adds to the charm.

“A lot of the plants were chosen because of the colour of the foliage,” Andy says.

“The Hesters wanted a lot of colour. They came to Dart’s nursery in West Bay and chose the flowers they wanted in the garden. Where they were put in the garden was then decided by the condition of the soil, the salt tolerance of the plant, and the maintenance they need. The Hesters were very involved in the process.”

One of the Hesters’ main requests was for a vegetable and herb garden, which they could use to supply their kitchen and indulge their love of tropical fruit. And the variety of fruit and vegetables encompassed in the garden is mouth-watering. Mango, orange, banana, lemon and avocado trees are interspersed with Surinam cherries, naseberries and gunips.

The herbs range from exotic to traditional, with lemongrass, Cuban thyme, local mint, and basil. Ornamental pineapples are dotted throughout, the tiny fruits seeming almost comical against the lush backdrop.

“The couple love tomatoes, so we have tomato vines, and lots of herbs and fruit trees. They love fruit and wanted to be able to source it from their own garden,” says Andy, whose wanted to create a garden that was both functional and beautiful.

The sheer size of the home was the main challenge when it came to designing the tropical garden. At three-storeys high, with a spacious deck, outdoor kitchen, and pool area, the house could easily have overshadowed the natural terrain.

However, by planting tall trees and a plethora of flowering plants, Andy was able to successfully create a balance between the “hard scape” and the “soft scape”. Indeed, the home seems a part of the environment, as if the garden came first, rather than the other way around.

“The house was built first, then we created the garden around that,” Andy says. “You would never know the garden has only been here for a few months because it is so well-developed. It is very lush and natural.”

In the front yard, Andy’s aim was to lessen the impact of the house and create a smooth transition between the street and the home. The soft green lawn is inviting, with huge flowering poincianas, in shades of red and yellow, adding to the charming neighbourhood feel.

A variety of leaf textures, in Australian bottlebrush and dainty bridal veil trees, draw the interest of the eye and enhance the textured effect of the environment. And it would not be a tropical garden without palm trees; towering solitaire palms sway in the gentle summer breeze.

“We wanted trees with really large canopies at the front of the house,” Andy says.

“Because the house is formal, we wanted to soften that with lots of foliage. On the lawn, there is a slight increase in the terrain to create interest. It’s a very lush landscape.”

Despite its verdant nature, the garden is, in every sense, a work in progress. As the Hesters grow within the home, so too will their use of the garden.

Andy intends to increase the size of the herb garden and move it to a more protected area, largely to stop the prying teeth of iguanas, as well as plant more fruit trees.

For now, the garden will continue to flourish, a beautiful setting in which the family can relax and retreat from the pressures of the world. There is no better way to escape than into the garden.

garden 1

Stephen Clarke & Justin Uzzell