Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Inspiring Garden Design: 12 Tropical Details to Borrow

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Every trip, every new destination offers a welcome opportunity to look at design from another perspective…one of the many reasons to justify travel. Oftentimes, a reminder is enough to freshen your take. As here, on a trip to Lyford Cay in Nassau. I’ve consolidated my “learnings” into 12 quick sound-bytes; easy to digest and one just may ring for you.

1. KISS (keep it simple) One of the first design elements I used as a young gardener — espaliered ivy diamonds to dress up a wall or fence (here and feature image above).

2. First impressions count Make that trip to the front door an intriguing walk…with a piece of sculpture as a focal point.

3. Have fun! Wonderful bougainvillea is ever-present in Lyford — I love it here leading your eye to the colorful garden seating in the distance (thank you,

4. Star-worthy pools deserve their own shout-out, and with the pair of pool cabanas, become a centerpiece of the garden.

5. Think outside the box. Or site the pool along the side of the house onto which bedrooms open.

6. Seating strategy. Position a chaise to take in a favorite garden view.

7. No “plain Jane” grass! Design an area of interest to either side of a stone-detailed forecourt with repeating diamonds of stone in the grass.

8. Play the classic card. That house facade cameo was just waiting for it’s star turn with a complimentary stone garden accessory.

9. Add a water feature. A rill can be simple or full-on (as here) But it is an underutilized design element for adding a quick centerpiece around which to work even a simple garden.

10. Share your beauty. A grand estate, built into the island’s coral and with an inspired corner terraced treatment, enhances a Lyford roundabout.

11. Can we ever see enough of these views?! Many of us may think that palm trees just come with the view, but indeed, they are very much a design favorite in a landscaper’s arsenal with careful thought given to their placement.

12. Create the ultimate hostess gift. A postcard-size, three-dimensional version of their home or favorite view by artist Pat O’Brien (

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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".

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