In 2001, The Florida Native Plant Society awarded VILLA MARIA 1st Place for the Residential Landscape Design with Native Plants. The property is often visited by gardeners and landscapers who are inquisitive to see how Florida Keys native plants have been used in the garden design. Over the years it has also been a popular location for Art Shows and other local special events.
The seaside environment, the width of the property on Florida Bay and the slope of the property towards the water and the spectacular views of the Bay have all shaped the landscape design.
There is a purpose to every landscape feature at Villa Maria.
Each storm has given new insights on how to structure and build microenvironments which will survive high tides and winds.
The width of the property on Florida Bay provides a magnificent view and care has been taken to preserve this by using low growing plants and or plants that can be pruned and maintained low in front of the house.
The slope of the property towards Florida Bay has also presented numerous problems with erosion but this has slowly been brought under control via the use of small islands of plants throughout the garden and via the use of French drains.
Villa Maria sits on solid cap rock and the only way to have a garden is to build up the gardens. This was done over many years using small coral rock boulders which have been cemented together to prevent leaking of dirt from the built up garden.
The mangrove trees around the boat basin have been preserved and any trimming is done from below and not above. Some of these trees are probably 40 feet tall and one theory is that they have given the property superior protection from storm and tornado damage over the years. Recently, when a tornado did severe damage to surrounding properties, VILLA MARIA was left unscathed. In fact, the tornado did not even visit the property! The boat basin is often used by friends and neighbors as a safe refuge from storms.
Enough cannot be said about the protection provided by Mangroves. Hurricane Wilma came at the islands from the Bay and it was amazing to note that plants that were given protection by surrounding mangrove trees suffered very little and recouperated relatively quickly.