Green Rooms

  • Photo by Robin Hill
    Transplanted oak trees grace the estate’s pool area and the grotto, a structure built of stone unearthed on-site.  Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    Cuban royal palms surround the pool pavilion, which has an indoor fireplace and dining area.  Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    Near the residence, sandbox trees create a graceful canopy. Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    Fragrant Michelia champaca trees form a pleached hedge bordering the formal sunken garden, which is accessible via marble staircases Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    A path of Florida coquina stone winds through the garden Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    The grounds’ perennial white Spathiphyllum needs little sun Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    The velvety Tibouchina, also known as the glory bush, boasts bluish purple blooms Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    The formal lily pond, edged in Japanese boxwood, is home to the floating Nymphaea water lily Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    The garden wall with a pedimented stone arch was designed by SMI and built of stone unearthed on the estate. Ganges primroses flank the winding path, which leads through the arch to the bamboo garden Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
    The SMI-designed grotto Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
  • Photo by Robin Hill
<< Back to Home & Style, May 2015
  • Kathleen Quigley

The secret to a successful garden is often just that—a secret. “A garden needs to have a bit of mystery,” says Jorge Sánchez, principal partner of SMI Landscape Architecture in Palm Beach, Fla., who recently oversaw the creation of this expansive estate garden in Miami. It is the domain of Facundo Bacardi, the chairman of the board of Bacardi Ltd.—the world’s largest privately owned spirits company—and great-great-grandson of the brand’s founder. Privacy and a sense of concealment prevail on the property. “You don’t see the garden all at once,” says SMI senior associate John Lubischer, the project manager for the Bacardi estate. “It was roomed off and beckons you on to see what’s happening in the rest of the garden.”

Bacardi, who also serves as managing director of the investment company Apache Capital, requested an atypical South Florida garden with trees and plantings mostly from the seasonal temperate zones, as well as some specimens from the tropics, all of it oriented toward his young family. “They wanted it to be a little less South Florida and not overly tropical,” says Sánchez. He notes that while some royal palms already existed on the estate (though they were ultimately transplanted to the perimeters east and west of the pool pavilion), “no heliconia [plants], no bananas” were introduced.

The landscape design team moved earth on the flat, nearly 4-acre site to create a new topography, which includes a sunken formal garden and a raised elliptical garden, and relied on the layering of trees, shrubs, and pleached hedges along the estate’s perimeter to create walls of green for privacy. (Sánchez, who is self-educated in the art of landscape design, mentions his affinity to the historic layers at grand En-glish country house gardens, most notably Chatsworth, Great Dixter, and Hidcote.) A serpentine pathway on the property’s periphery connects the various garden “rooms” and is used by the Bacardi family for daily walks, bicycling, or jogging.

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