Never work for family or acquaintances, he’d been told, but landscape master Keith Williams took a leap of faith when he decided to tackle the 14,000 square feet of gardens at a good friend’s Palm Beach residence. He couldn’t have asked for a more enriching experience or more satisfying results.
“Everything about this project was inspired by Bermuda architecture and landscape,” says Williams. “We spent several days in the island studying [structures] and gardens to prepare.”
Back home in South Florida, Williams and his team put that research to good use by focusing on elements such as water features, fountains, and rivulets so they would read authentic. Large coral boulders were incorporated into the walls and foundation of the home just like in the Bermudian houses they encountered during their trip. “We were in charge of designing everything you see as soon as you step out the front door,” says Williams. “We prefer to design all the exterior elements so there’s a cohesiveness in look and an awareness to light, exposure, wind, space, and scale.”
In terms of plant selection, different grasses were chosen for movement and texture, with native species making up most of the flora on display. An example of this approach is found in the island garden encircled by the home’s driveway where Gumbo Limbo trees, silver Buttonwood hedges, and Bismarckia palms were selected for size and character, and give a hint of the green life to come.
Of particular importance was the home’s location by Tarpon Cove. “We like to find ways to provide a connection to the water, home and gardens,” says Williams, “so we planted trees and palms that don’t block the views, but rather allow you to see through them, which created depth and added a sense of mystery.”
There are also whimsical surprises along the way: a sunken garden that separates the main home from the guest house, sculptures that nod to the homeowners’ love of animals, and water features for pure enjoyment and contemplation.
“The home, the water, and the grounds are all connected,” says Williams. “We wanted this place to feel as if it had always been here.”
Text by Luis R. Rigual