The Bermuda House
Delaey Robinson and Andrea Dismont are something of an international family. The native Bermudians were educated in the United States, Canada, and England. Delaey spent five years traveling the world in a sailboat, and Andrea has lots of experience scuba diving in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Both have traveled extensively, they own a second home in the American southwest, and they hope to raise their two young sons to be fluent in one or two languages other than English.

It was on a trip to Mexico that Delaey and Andrea found one inspiration for their new home in St. George's. The landscape plan for their new south garden was born in a Mexican house they saw on a vacation south of the border.

"Traditional Mexican design is to have a house surrounding an inner courtyard," says Delaey. "This property had two joined houses, so it had two courtyards. One had a pool; the other had a tree and a fountain. There were multiple levels and entertaining spaces, and we just adored it."

As it turned out, the desire for multiple levels worked well at Harbour View. When landscape designer Mohammed Farooqui went to check out the site, he found that a third of the yard was taken up by the household water tank. (With no fresh water on the island, Bermudians harvest rainwater for household use.)

"The tank is old, and it's not looking good," says Mohammed. "So we created a deck on it, as a design necessity." The rest of the landscape plan evolved from there, with multiple spaces and levels defining areas for entertaining, sitting, and relaxing in the spa or pool.

Before he got started on the plan, the landscape designer talked with the homeowners about how they hoped to use the property. Delaey and Andrea wanted space for their own relaxing and entertaining, and they wanted a spa and pool for themselves and for visitors and guests to enjoy.

"We originally planned a full pool," says Delaey. "But the pool, which was joined to the spa, completely dominated the garden. There was no room to design anything! Now we have a smaller pool — a swim spa, with a water jet so you can swim against the current — and it will fit the design. The regular spa is on the other side of the garden, and everything is all angled in there. It's beautiful, with high and low decking."

In planning the landscape on the south side of the house, it only made sense to take advantage of the view. The house is on a hill overlooking St. George's Harbour, and Harbour View is no misnomer. The view, like the old water tank, turned out to be a stroke of luck that ended up working well with the short time frame. "Delaey and Andrea wanted pool users to be able to have a peek at the ocean, which is only 500 or 600 feet away," says Mohammed. "We also didn't want to do a lot of excavation, given the time constraints. Since it's a swim spa and not a full pool, it's only 50 inches deep at its deepest point. We're installing it so that it will be 26 inches above ground, with the rest below the ground." That's low enough to work with the multi-level decks, and high enough to afford a view of the harbor. And it requires less digging than a full-size in-ground pool, which is an important consideration given the work schedule on this project.

"The yard is still being used by the general contractor," sighs Mohammed. "It's tight — we're tripping over each other! But we actually got started last week — we poured the foundation wall for the pool."

The Mexican influences will be apparent not only in the multi-tiered decking, but also in the natural stone and colorful mosaic used throughout. A Mexican sun face will spit water into a pot, using a submersible pump to recirculate water.

"I love Mohammed's design — especially his use of Mexican pebbles," says Andrea. "I wanted to incorporate lots of color, like Frieda Kahlo's ultramarine blue, and different palm trees, bougainvillea, and other vines to emphasize that we're living on an island. Above all the design had to say fun instead of formal."

The lush tropical plantings will have a wild, natural look, and they'll meet one of the homeowners' most important criteria: low maintenance.

"Andrea and Delaey didn't want to be out there shearing and clipping all the time," says Mohammed. "They wanted a natural look, with minimum maintenance, where they could maybe go out there once or twice a year to take care of things. We're using tropical plants, nothing too big, since the yard has such a small footprint. The solitaire palm will grow tall — maybe 30 feet over 15 or 20 years. The spindle palm is smaller, more compact, and slow growing. It will be 15 feet max. All the plants we're using are hardy, widely used in Bermuda, and proven hurricane-resistant. And they're very textured, architectural plants, for a lush look."

HARBOUR VIEW PLANT SELECTIONS

Common Name

Botanical Name

Plant Type

African Iris

Moraea iridiodes

Clumping Bush, Flowering

Agave, Dragon Tree

Agave attenuata

Accent Plant, Foliage

Allamanda, Yellow

Allamanda catharicta

Climber, Flowering

Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia reginae

Clumping Bush, Accent, Flowering

Croton

Codiaem variegatum

Medium Shrub, Colorful Foliage

Day Lily

Hemerocallis

Ground Cover

Dusty Miller

Senecio cineraria

Ground Cover, Accent, Foliage

Licorice Plant

Helichrysum petiolare 'Limeglow'

Ground Cover, Trailing, Foliage

Lily of the Nile

Agapanthus africanus

Clumping Small Bush, Flowering

Lilyturf, Giant Evergreen

Liriope muscari 'Gigantea'

Ground Cover, Accent

Mondograss, Variegated

Ophiopogon jaburan 'Variegatus'

Ground Cover, Accent

Mother-in-law's Tongue, Tall Variegated  

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurenttii'

Ground Cover, Accent

Palm, Pigmy Date

Phoenix roebelenii

Palm, Small

Palm, Solitaire 

Ptychosperma elegans

Palm, Tall

Palm, Spindle

Hyphorbe verschaffeltii

Palm, Medium

Ponytail Palm (Elephant Foot Tree)

Beaucarnea recurvata

High Shrub, Accent

White Bird of Paradise (Giant Bird of Paradise)

Strelitzia nicolai

High Shrub, Accent

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea Spp.

Climber, Flowering



As with any landscape plan, this finished product will take time to develop. Along the way, as the plants fill in and the yard grows toward maturity, the decks, fountains, and spas will be there to provide comfort, relaxation, and one heck of a view. For Andrea and Delaey it sounds like a heavenly combination: looking down on their native waters from a little Mexican hideaway.



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