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The Garden of Albert and Ana Arazoza, Miami, Florida

Island Oasis

by: Renee Betancourt

This year’s Garden Tour showcases a trio of gardens which comprise a ten-acre land parcel shared mostly by members of the same family. Each of the gardens has been professionally landscaped by Peter Strelkow, of HS2G Inc., yet each has a distinct identity.

After ten years, homeowners Albert and Ana commissioned Peter to achieve a new vision for their garden. Peter was a natural choice since he had done the original design. To facilitate this new vision some plants were removed, others relocated, and many new ones were added in an altogether new design conceptualization. The result is an extraordinary, truly show-stopping landscape composition.

This garden is a true oasis. Multiple layers of palms are the first vision. Elegant royal palms flank both sides of the driveway and smaller silver-thatched fan palms, Copernicia prunifera, line either side parallel to the street in double rows. The main entrance is marked with four large keystone columns crowned with a saucer of elegant cycads, Dioon mereolea. To the right, a trio of cycads, Dioon spinulosum, nest among the prunifera palms and continues the tropical feeling. Orange Epidendrum orchids add wonderful color. Adjacent are three sculptural small, leafless, spiny trees, Pacypodium rutanburgianum. This native of Madagascar looks more like a work of art than a plant. Notice the delicate white flowers at the branch terminals. A clump of Moroccan fan palms adds a sash of silver, while a large yellow and green bromeliad and Yucca filaments ‘Color Guard’ add texture and color.

The foundation plantings to the right feature a large cluster of cabada palms surrounded by colorful bromeliads. Two large, elegant imperial bromeliads are the focal point here. Their red hues are echoed by red-flowering ginger and masses of brilliantly colored crotons, ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’. Two large cycads, Dioon rzedowski surrounded by creamy bromeliads mark the house entrance.

The left side of the house features an extraordinary bed of palms – Licuala grandis and Kentiotopis oliviformis. Tall and shorter, palmate and pinnate, olive green and lime green planted in a checker-board pattern with Anthurium ‘Black Dragon’ filling the understory with spectacular form and color.

The central part of the yard retains large clumps of indigenous saw palmetto, original to the property. They are enhanced by plantings of Farfugium and colorful ‘Dreadlocks’ crotons.

Homeowners Albert and Ana love to entertain family and friends in their charming old-Florida styled home. “I believe that gardens are meant to be shared,” said Albert, who has a life-long passion for plants. “I want people to feel as if they stepped into a hidden island oasis.” We invite you to stroll through this amazing front garden, and then venture around back where a delightful surprise awaits!

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