The sunny Palm Beach garden designed by Fernando Wong has Calamondin citrus trees in Italian Terracotta pottery flanking the Zoysia lawn. A variety of globes and hedges surround the feature fountain. Photo by Carmel Brantley.
Known for his progressive philosophy toward landscape design, it’s not surprising that Fernando Wong was recently involved in one of the country’s few Platinum LEED-Certified homes, an Art Deco manor in Palm Beach, Florida. “The house has several eco-friendly aspects including the use of native plant material, geo-thermal energy and a rainwater collection system in place of traditional irrigation,” he notes.
This pro-environment attitude leads the way for many of Wong’s other landscape design projects, he reveals. “For the past decade we have made a conscious effort to use as many native plants on our projects as possible. Native plants are perfectly suited to the climate and soil conditions of the regions that they come from. They are ideal because they require very little maintenance and less water, as well as almost no fertilizers and pesticides.”
The axial view looking west to the main house creates an intricate parterre garden made of Jasmine minima, Ilex Vomitoria, and Podocarpus. These elements convey a visual interest toward the house. Photo by Nick Sargent.
Whether he is making decisions about a client’s backyard or designing common spaces in a large-scale development, Wong keeps sustainability in the forefront. He has noticed a welcome change in his clients’ attitudes concerning sustainability. “I find that people are usually pretty open to eco-friendly solutions in both residential and commercial projects.”
For someone who puts a lot of thought into adding shades of green to everyday life, Wong said the interiors of his own homes are mainly plant-free zones. “Ironically, all I have are two Ficus lyrate,” he laughs. “I travel constantly for work, and when I am home I divide my time between the two places where I have offices, Miami Beach and Palm Beach. When I am not there, I am in Key West to relax. Because of all this back and forth, and the fact that even when I am at home I am outside, I do not have many indoor plants.”
Wong sites the Villa Barbarigo Garden at Valsanzibio as a garden of inspiration. Built in 1630, the garden was a refuge from the plague for the Barbarigo family. It eventually became a symbol of man’s progress.
“This or That?” With Fernando Wong
aspire: Majestic formal gardens or intimate secret gardens?
aspire: A vase exploding with leafy fronds or colorful flower arrangements?
Fernando: Palm fronds.
aspire: Native plants or exotic ornamentals?
Fernando: Always native.
aspire: Outdoor furniture: wood, concrete or composite?
Fernando: Wood, usually teak.
aspire: Garden accents: gnome or flamingo?
Fernando: Neither, but I am fascinated by the fact that the first garden gnomes appeared in the 1600s.
aspire: Windswept seagrass or manicured bluegrass?
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