Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Defining Views: A Palm Beach Garden

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A mutual friend described Terry Rakolta’s garden as her fifth child. Versions of that well describe many of us who are passionate, dedicated lovers of our “plots of green.” Little did I know when I visited Casa Tranquila that I would be stepping into a vision of one of my very favorite parts of the world — the northern lake district of Italy — transported to Palm Beach. Given its climate as well as the original intent of this ocean enclave’s founders, “PB” is a place where lifestyle dreams, big and small, can be realized…especially gardens.

When Terry escorts you around her series of garden rooms on the very edge of the Intra Coastal Waterway, you quickly appreciate how well-considered every decision was in collaboration with gardener designer, Jorge Sanchez. As she says of her two acre spot — “I asked a lot of this small garden and it was very much about views; I always wanted to be able to look through one garden room to another and  enjoy varying views from different angles.”

The details are first evident in the ball finials interspersed along the tall, majestic hedge that handsomely hugs the curve of their property; a detail that is continued into the entry courtyard to be found on the pillars of the gates into the first garden room.

Her first room she refers to as the “dining room;” a narrow rectangle with open arches on the left. The fact that it is perpendicular to the water is made more dramatic by the height of the palm trees (all brought in by crane).

But the real drama takes place at night!

One of the many examples of secondary views to be glimpsed through the “dining room’s” arches into the tiled pool and beyond to the third garden room.

The loggia off the home’s entry hall looks out upon the “pool room.”

Limbed-up, squared off trees create privacy from the water (and the view of West Palm Beach). Terry’s keen eye enjoys the layered effect of the blue pool, low green planting, blue Intra Coastal Waterway and clipped green trees.

A view across the pool back to the house and loggia might as well be on Lake Como…

Its interior with blue tiles are the finishing touches to include a bar…

While also providing another view into the third garden room.

Opening off the main rooms of the home, the third garden area is supra Italian, Terry’s “homage” to Russell Page. Bougainvillea on tiled arches look across to hedges that form a corner with the pool room; red geraniums make the whole scene “pop!”

Red is picked up again in the umbrella shading a seating area at the water’s edge off this third garden statement.

Lastly, Terry’s “private garden” of which she is justly proud –a rill with fountain — is designed as a special view off the library.

Thank you, Terry, for inviting us into your version of paradise.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

6 thoughts on “Defining Views: A Palm Beach Garden

  1. Stunning and Terry Rakolta’s Casa Tranquila lives up to its name with gentle breezes coming off the water and the fragrance of the gardens.

  2. I long to go back and study PB. This blog was, once again, A+
    Your fan from the Newport of the Midwest

  3. Your friend Terry has a very good eye. It all fits together rather splendidly, doesn’t it? How satisfying it must be for her to be able to enjoy those beautiful views every day. The treatment of those squared off trees at the end of the pool is called ‘pleaching’. Pleached hornbeam abounds in my part of the world in upstate New York, and in the UK, it is pleached lime. I love the look of it – so orderly. It was generous of her to share her lovely world with us, and thank you for posting it.

  4. Bravo! Ms. Rakolta’s gardens are magnificent! A true feel of Northern Italy with a nod to Portugal with the stunning blue and white tiles in the bar area. Each view was breathtaking. Thank you for sharing this remarkable property and thumbs-up to the photographer who captured the essence of the gardens so beautifully.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, one of my favorite gardens I’ve ever photographed!xB

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