Sea and Stone: A Croatian Island Garden, Slide Show
Our side show of the interiors, exteriors, and plants of a beautiful summer home on a Croatian island owned by interior designer Lucien Rees Roberts and architect Steven Harris, and with a garden deisgned by landscape architect David Kelly.
If you want to read more about the evolution of this property, read Lise Funderburg's article Sea and Stone: A Croatian Island Garden.
Proving you can’t keep a good climate down, barely a decade after the war ended in Croatia (in 1995), the New York Times dubbed the coastline-rich country the “New Riviera.” With its glistening sunshine, mild temperatures, and dramatic backdrops of intensely blue seas and steep mountains, travel-wise publications such as National Geographic hailed it as the place to visit. But if you choose to put down roots, literally, as Lucien Rees Roberts and Steven Harris have, you’ll need to plan around the dry heat of coastal Croatia’s hardiness zone 9 summers. This means being water-wise with plant selections and employing patience: Gardens are typically slow to establish in Mediterranean climates.
Left: The outdoor dining area, where the couple spends much of their time, is surrounded by a similarly subdued palette made up of rosemary, lavender, and santolina.
Modern furniture in neutral colors, like the Jorge Zalszupin chairs at right, serves to accentuate the house’s ocean views and original limestone walls.
Grapevines will eventually cover the arbor, but the climate makes for slow growing conditions. For a cohesive look, local limestone is used for the outdoor paths.
The stone kitchen counter had to be carried from the ferry by hand.
THE PLANTS:?Drought and wind tolerance were the guiding characteristics for selecting a plant palette in the Croatian garden of Steven Harris and Lucien Rees Roberts.
Left: The tough evergreen shrub, Cistus x purpureus (orchid rockrose) can handle sandy and rocky soils, strong wind, and salt spray.
Various species of lemon, lime, and orange trees grow in the more protected areas of the property.
Rosemary fills the air with a rich herbal fragrance and Ceanothus arboreus (feltleaf ceanothus or tree lilac) [left] is a shrub with wonderful blue blooms and dark green leaves.
The garden is also filled with aromatic mounds of Santolina chamaecyparissus, with its silvery-gray foliage and yellow button flowers. Many varieties of lavender add to the fragrance and low-growing mounded appeal of the garden.