A residential landscape that integrates the owner’s heritage, French with their place of residence: Florida. An exposed and unused lawn is converted into a poetic display of hardy native plants and trees which require little maintenance and no water during the dry season. The driveway integrates elements of French formality de-constructed classic shapes of Versailles parterres floating in a bed of Florida seashells.
Hamilton Residence is located at the edge of the Biltmore Hotel golf course in Coral Gables, Florida. The design instruction from the client was “…a creative Florida garden that is low maintenance, without touching the tamarind tree.” The garden is anchored by an immense tamarind tree which was growing on this property well before Coral Gables was ever platted as a City, at the turn of the last century. The existing garden consisted of an unused lawn exposed to the street. The master bedroom required screening from traffic.
The concept for the design was to capture this very exposed space next to the house as a totally private garden enclosing an outdoor space, off the master bedroom, for quiet reflection, reading, sunning and mediating. “The kids use it to study and when I come in from running in the summer, I collapse under the outdoor shower.” – The client.
The low perimeter wall creates privacy from the street from the house weaving playfully from the giant tamarind tree and falling southward before finally turning to hide in the tall palms on establish the southern border of the garden. This allows the driveway to serve traffic as well as cars. “We even set up drinks under the shade of the tamarind to greet the guests with. Before it was just a paved roadway” client. In addition, the seashell pathway also fosters a sense of security in the low light conditions of an urban night.
The native plant palette was selected for texture and color. The coontie is a reference to the original South Florida crop that was as a starch source for the pioneers. The black mulch enhances the shades of green and silver. An enclosed herb garden is off the kitchen door. The hardscape materials are a combination of poured in place concrete, sea shells and native coral rock. They blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
To allow for open vistas towards the golf course from the living room, no planting was proposed except for an ‘old man’s palm’ which looks as if it had been sitting there all along… the east lawn extends into golf course and the horizon beyond…
Landscape Architect: Arquitectonica GEO
Design Scope: landscape, hardscape and irrigation for: front lawn, driveway, pool area, north and south setbacks, and backyard.
Total area: 20,050 sq. ft.
Photography credit: Cecilia Calleros