Paisaje/Passage Garden

Miami, Florida

The paisaje/passage garden amplifies the experience of transitioning from land to water, temperate to tropical, and the sense of sight to the sense of smell.

Just as Miami is the exuberant cultural nexus of North and South America, the garden is an ecological nexus of temperate and tropical environments. From the moment of entering the gates, guests experience the transition from the colorful sights of the northern landscape to the floral scents of a Caribbean night garden on the bay. The grey stone motor court dissolves into a gradient of planted carpets as it reaches the house. Slabs of local limestone are spliced into this pattern, serving to re-orient the pathways: these pedestrian-scaled walkways lead guests out of their cars and into the world of the garden.

The focal point of the entry garden is the formal entry courtyard – an outdoor room inscribed by a colonnade of rare Miraguama silver palms – which was conceived as a living sculpture. These palms have the proportion of full-grown fan palms, but at mature size the canopies of the Miraguamas are just a few feet overhead. This scalar play lends intimacy to the experience of arriving at the house, bringing the fine textures of the garden close to eye level, while also emphasizing the grandeur of the welcoming front doors.

The plant palette of the entry garden celebrates the southernmost range of Miami’s temperate natives and all their seasonal changes. Here the maples and sweetgums don their best fall color, magnolias greet spring with dinner-plate-sized blossoms, and the upright cones of the red sumac, rarely seen in South Florida, lend unique winter interest. Orchids, lush flower beds, and the music of water cascading over the weirs of a cast linear runnel give sensory glimpses of the tropical realm of the waterfront garden beyond the house.

Passing through the house to the pool deck, guests slip into a world transformed. Here the plant palette is overtly tropical and sensual. Aromatic jasmine, ylang-ylang, frangipani, gardenia, and verbena perfume the air. The waterfront social garden comes to life after sunset: plants such as the rare night-blooming Cereus plant were specially selected for their moonlit blossoms and evening scents.

The garden is designed to provide the ultimate luxury of a healthy organic landscape. Here guests, children and pets can enjoy the outdoors free from concern about the toxic chemicals and fertilizers that are typically used on conventional lawns. Sustainability is at the forefront of the garden design: rainwater, which has ideal pH for watering the plants, is harvested from the building roofs, allowing the plants to take up nutrients at maximum efficiency, bypassing the need for petroleum based fertilizers. The “smart drip” irrigation system has soil sensors programmed for optimal water use. A green roof of dune native plants is drought tolerant and attracts migratory butterflies and songbirds.  All paved materials in the garden are regionally sourced, and the indigenous plants are selected to support rare and endangered habitats.