When Ella Fontanals-Cisneros asked Raymond Jungles to design a garden for her high-rise rooftop, the Miami-based landscape architect accepted the offer, even though he rarely takes on such projects. “Rooftops are a whole other animal and not for the faint of heart,” he says. “But I wanted to work with Ella again, because she is such a supporter of visual art and design. I was also excited about the challenges the project presented.”
In arid northern New Mexico, the climate can be a hard row — 300 days of virtually cloudless sunshine, blistering summers, freezing winters and a temperature difference between night and day of as much as 40 degrees. Not to mention the mere 12 annual inches of rain and snowfall combined, which makes water a precious commodity and much on the mind of even the average, non-gardening citizen of the state. Runoff might be a nuisance in some places, but in Santa Fe, every drop counts. Yet the tough, natural beauty and distinctive Southwest character of the region are spellbinding.
John G. Fairey’s eyes widen when he is asked to name a favorite plant, as if he’s been asked to choose his favorite child. “Why, all of them,” he replies softly in a sandpapery Southern lilt. And given his surroundings—some 3,000 species of rare and endangered plants at Peckerwood, his 40-year-old, renowned private garden near the Texas town of Hempstead—you’re rather inclined to believe him.
Hollywood notables judge real estate by three qualities: privacy, privacy, and privacy. When Marg Helgenberger, longtime star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, shopped for a new home five years ago, she found her sanctuary in a Spanish-Mediterranean revival on a corner lot in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Landscaping enveloped three sides of the property, with elderly ficus trees on the front and north sides. At the back of the house, a columned loggia afforded a sequestered entertaining space.
A map of the garden. Image courtesy of Babylonstoren.
Babylonstoren means “Tower of Babel” in Dutch, and the eight acres of gardens at this restored 18th-century Cape Dutch farmstead and hotel in South Africa’s Drakenstein Valley are, like their namesake, both monumental and tantalizingly unfinished. And yet, a walk through the grounds may help visitors do what that skyscraper of legend could not: touch heaven.
This article appeared as "From the Roots" in the January/February 2012 issue.
One thing I’ve learned after almost a decade in Sweden is this: Under no circumstances should you move here in November. I did. I left New York, a city that glitters year-round and where there’s almost always some green in Central Park, and moved to Stockholm. Life went from Technicolor to black and white. If you’ve seen Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, in which a man plays chess with Death, that’s how I feel as I walk around the house switching on lights at 3 o’clock on a November afternoon.