(Published in Inside Out, spring 2012)
The two-storey home blends seamlessly into its surroundings, hidden away among the lush natural foliage.
It is, the owner explains, a garden with a house, rather than a house with a garden.
Indeed, this is exactly what the owner had in mind when she hired Tom Balon from Vigoro Nursery to create the garden of her dreams.
Working alongside the architect, Tom designed the garden around the home to ensure the two spaces worked in harmony. By using his own blueprints for the garden as well as the architect’s elevations for the house, Tom created a blossoming sanctuary in which no matter where one stands, there are pockets of interest to draw the eye.
“This was a particularly exciting project to work on as it is unusual to have the opportunity to work in conjunction with the architects during the house build,” Tom says.
“The owner also knew exactly what she wanted, which was to keep as many of the native trees and landscaping as possible, while creating a beautiful, yet functional garden.”
To the left of the house, the land is as close to its natural state as possible, brimming with such greenery as seagrape, silver thatch palms, and poui trees. To the right, the garden is beautifully landscaped with a crisp green lawn and flower beds overflowing with native species.
The team at Vigoro Nursery spent a year methodically clearing the land by hand, removing poisonous plants, such as cat’s claw and maiden plum, and tagging the trees and shrubs that were to remain.
Working on the land to the left, Tom carefully cleared some of the plants and cut others back to help the natural light stream in and allow new plants to thrive.
With parts of the rocky ironshore now exposed, he worked with the natural crevices and grottos, planting additional species such as native henna, coco plums, rosemary, croton and orchids, accenting certain areas and enhancing the textured effect of the environment.
As the bush was cleared, natural paths were exposed, meandering from the house through the garden and spilling out on to the beach where additional sea grape, vitex and sea lavender were planted, forming natural canopies of shade.
Small pockets also started to emerge amongst the trees, creating hidden seating areas in and around the vibrant tropical foliage.
Existing Cayman stone, which was dug out of the ground during the construction of the house, was used to construct charming pathways and line the edge of the driveway, to ensure a seamless transition from the man-made elements to the natural landscape.
To the right of the house, flower beds brim with native species in a rainbow of shades. Fruit trees, palms and birch trees capture the eye and add shade, texture, colour and depth to the garden.
An inviting pool with crisp, clean lines runs the length of the front of the house, hugged at one end by the ironshore and at the other by the pristine lawn, linking to the different pockets of the garden and allowing the unique environments to blend into one.
“Our main aim was to design around the existing landscape and to complement it where necessary,” Tom explains.
“As the land was cleared we were able to see its natural landscape, and from this point on the garden almost designed itself. When it does, you know you’ve got it right.”
The garden is now a tropical oasis, brimming with native plants and wildlife. It contains an eco-system all of its own. Yet, despite its verdant nature, the garden has only just been completed.
“Any garden is an evolving process,” Tom says. “It’s an ongoing evolution.”
As time goes by, the garden will continue to flourish, offering a natural sanctuary in which the owner can relax, rejuvenate and relish the beauty of Cayman’s natural environment.