Sofias Country Gardens
A tropical holiday
As far as garden inspiration goes, I think that hotel gardens are a vastly underrated source of ideas and inspiration. I guess we take for granted that when we stay at nice hotels, the surrounding gardens should enhance the experience. However, there are few settings that are as challenging to design as a hotel garden. It needs to provide a beautiful backdrop to the amenities, both hiding and enhancing the surrounding buildings. A well designed hotel garden has many of the elements of private gardens, and whenever I am travelling I like to spend some time thinking about the best elements to take home in my ever expanding toolkit. This year I was lucky enough to spend my winter holiday on the paradise island of Koh Samui in Thailand at the beautiful Banyan Tree resort, and here follows a collection of pictures form that visit to inspire you too.
The entrances to the villas are beautifully framed with structural elements and architectural potted plants, mostly evergreens that pretty year round although they have a short flowering season.
The paths are lined with trees and plantings that create beautiful vistas. By curving the pathway it draws you further along to explore what is behind the next bend. The wild nature of the garden is deceptive - it actually takes a lot of maintenance to keep it in check!
Throughout the garden many of the same plants are used over and again, keeping the palette simple and making it easy on the eye. The magic is in how well kept the borders are, always ensuring selected plant are dominant and never swamped with other self-seeded plants (keeping the weeds at bay in other words).
Added to this basic structure is a whole host of different focus plants ranging from flowering palm trees to brightly coloured flowers.
Large pots planted up with foliage or flowering plants are used to great effect in corners, by entrances and doorways, and for focal points at the end of vistas.
Even the aqueducts were beautifully formed in cobbled stone and look like ancient parts of ruins in the jungle.
Most villas have beautiful views of the bay and the open sea.
Near the top of the hill wildflowers were growing in a crevice, showing off Mother Natures gardening skills.
Even the pool down by the spa was carefully designed with garden elements like this pool within the pool, filled with water lilies in different colours.
The beach was kept meticulously clean, yet surrounded by natural tropical rocky seaside landscape giving it all the calm and restful feeling of being in touch with nature.
And last but not least, one of the many wonderful orchids planted all over the place!