Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vizcaya: Formal Italian gardens

Charles Deering (along with Paul Chalfin) chose the Italian style for his Miami estate, Vizcaya. The mediterranean style is well matched to the southern Florida climate but many of the plants had to be replaced with heartier stock. The use of local plants in a foreign Italian manner fit the house itself, which was a mixture of styles from different time periods. This all was very zeitgeist as the grand estates of the time mixed styles with abandon (an affect I personally love). The garden just south of the house was used as the main garden, seen to the right of the house in the map above. Florida, as a general rule, is incredibly flat and this site was no exception.To counteract that, Suarez had an artificial terraced hill created at the end of a long pool of water that also would create some shade so one could view the garden from the house without glare (so smart!).

The garden is walled in and on either side of the house, the walls hide service spaces (to the left of the house, where one enters the garden today) and a 'secret' garden meant for the display of Orchids seen above (on the right of the house labled as #18 on the map)The long pool has an island (#8 on the map) which is really spectacular -imagine having a party there!Fountains in the pool keep it from getting stagnant and attracting pests. Notice the spanish moss in the surrounding trees.Urns of the local coral limestone surround the pool and are filled with decorative native plantings.Boxwoods, seen below, also do well in the climate and are used to create green walls.The mix of colors is so gorgeous, my photographs don't capture it quite well enough as in person; The blue sky, the pink house, the red roof, the yellow garden walls and the lush greenery are almost sensory overload at the same time as feeling incredibly tranquil.The walls surrounding the Semi-Circular pools (#9 on the map) must have been rebuilt at some point as the construction looks much more modern, and in the dark pink color we saw earlier.They also house some gazebos with iron railings of dubious construction which don't exactly match the quality of the other work, seen above. Yes, thats the same photoshoot that we saw in the entry garden! Green and yellow -one of my favorite color combinations.The walls surrounding the artificial mound are covered in statuary and are of deep coral pink stucco.Notice the party lights hanging in the oaks around the pool!The central staircase has terracotta pots, similar to the ones in Deering's time.The stairs are flanked by grottos in the Italian manner. A caryatid and telamon support the archway. What a great spot to take shelter from the rain or to relax.Each has a fountain and long bench along the wall. Notice the shells which decorate the ceiling, a great detail!
The terracing up to the mound is really beautiful; I love the combination of materials and stucco colors.I could have sat here all day long, the most incredible gardens.
The terracing continues behind the mound as well, where there are also some obelisks.I'd be smiling too if this was where I lived, like this happy bust. The stairs on the sides of the mound have tracks up the center for the gardener's wheelbarrows.
Gates seperate the garden from the other areas of the estate. Across the street was the whole farm village (like many of the golden age estates, this was a somewhat self-sustaining estate) which now house administrative offices and we were unable to see.More of the gardens tomorrow, you won't want to miss it!


The Down East Dilettante said...

It is all so very very good.

Continuing our conversation about the level of maintenance, while I don't necessarily think everything needs to maintained to manicure perfection, some things, like the trees on either side of the long pool bother me. They are supposed to, as part of the original design, be clipped as squared aerial hedges, and in the last half dozen years have stopped being so maintained, with real loss to the design. But, as I say, small quibble, compared to the idea that the place not exist at all. One forgets between visits how truly superbly executed the whole scheme is. Just gorgeous.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

DED -I totally see what you're saying. I think I was just so enamored with the place I took it as it was!
In general I tend to prefer a more wild or 'english' garden so yet another reason I was fine with it. They are doing a lot of maintenance on the grounds so maybe in the summer they'll resume a more rigorous gardening strategy?

The Down East Dilettante said...

fingers crossed. Problem with pruning to a shape is that once you stop, it's hard to get it back.

But, all that aside, isn't it all just an astonishing bit of design, the way the pieces fit together, and each has its own logic in the scheme? Suarez was very very good.

The Devoted Classicist said...

I love the combination of colored stucco walls paired with coquina stone detailing.

quintessence said...

Just incredible!! Although I totally respect DED's comment about the trees vis a vis the original design, I would never have known that and like you am just totally overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. I also like it a bit more rambling - the colors, the mix of styles the topography - all just amazing!! I think my favorite might be the majestic staircases. Most definitely on my bucket list of places to see.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

DED - he was amazing! So sad he was in semi-retirement after marrying well.

Devoted - I just love that stone and I'm always a fan of stucco when done right!

Quintessence - go - RUN! If not this winter then next. Seriously everyone needs to see this place at least once.

pve design said...

Thank-you for sharing this with us and also I am so appreciative of you kind comment over at "Matter of Style"- Thank-you!

Splendid Sass said...

Wow! Love the grottos. The gardens here are magnificent.
Love you blog. I have added your blog to my blogroll.

Paisley Curtain said...

Vizcaya reminds me of "Villa Philbrook" in Tulsa.In 1926 Edward Buehler Delk a Kansas City architect, designed this Italian Renaissance villa on 23 acres built for Waite Phillips, owner of Phillips Oil company.

Vizcaya is on a bigger scale. I see a lot of resemblance.

Woody said...

This is a total fantasy world! That island on the long pool and that beautiful grotto are so literally, outrageously fantastic! If only I were an artist or something, I feel really inspired looking at these designs (definitely a tip of the hat to your photos as well).

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks Woody, Trust me - you haven't seen anything yet!

Anonymous said...

Those gazebos were rebuilt post hurricane. They are ugly compared to what had been there. Was the water staircase turned on? Did you walk over to the peacock bridge? Vizcaya was completely self-sustaining; even down the the telephone system! Originally the parterres were filled with colored sand and when viewed from the upstairs of the house, appeared as patterns on an oriental rug! Hope you were able to visit the swimming pool, too!

Anonymous said...

Stefan, I am so enjoying revisiting Vizcaya with you. I don't remember those gazebos... must go back & look at my slides...yes slides.

Unknown said...

Oh, so beautiful...thank you for the virtual holiday to fantasy land!!

Karena said...

Stefan an incredible estate. I love the coral garden walls with the superb statuary! The boxwood on the roof top is wonderful1

Do come and enter my Artful Offering!

Art by Karena

Topaz said...

The Miami Tourism Office will owe you a debt of gratitude after your series of posts. I really had no interest in visiting the area until seeing these and now it has zoomed to the top of the list.