Real garden: a Caribbean inspired garden makeover

Peter and Julie Richmond’s cottage garden has evolved into a plant-filled Caribbean paradise

Project notes

The owners
Peter Richmond and wife Julie, who run a hairdressing salon, live here with their youngest son Harry, 21, and miniature schnauzer, Marmite.
The property
A former farm cottage built in 1904 in Chelmsford, Essex.

The plot surrounding the couple’s pink Edwardian house has always been a joint project. Peter did a course on landscaping and realised that what they really needed was more room for plants. Twenty years after first designing the original garden, they undertook a radical Caribbean makeover.

Find out how they achieved it, then browse more real home transformations and find out how to plan, design and cost your garden transformation.

stone statue centre piece carribean garden

At the garden’s heart, surrounded by ponytail grass Stipa tenuissima, is a classical statue nicknamed Pandora, which the couple bought 25 years ago from Writtle Road Nursery in Chelmsford

Inspired by regular visits to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset, the couple decided they wanted a Caribbean style garden. 

tropical carribean pathway

Edged with tree ferns, dahlias, black bamboo, red-leafed banana, and agapanthus, a path leads to the covered lounge

They created a paved seating area surrounded by lush foliage including tree ferns, Fatsia japonica and spiky phormiums and also built an outdoor lounge space, taking inspiration from pictures of the Caribbean using corrugated tin for the roof and painted panels for the walls.

tropical garden caribbean arch

The paved seating area near the house, surrounded by tree ferns and hostas, features Peter and Julie’s original white dining set, bought when they were first married

carribean seating area under a tin roof

Fish, birds and a barrel add to the Caribbean feel of the 3x3m covered outdoor lounge at

wall decorated with old tools and caribbean plants

With the permission of their neighbours, the Richmonds have decorated this wall with trellis and old gardening tools

tropical Caribbean garden at night

Atmospheric spotlighting and clever planting make the Caribbean garden look like a tropical paradise at night

before it was a tropical caribbean garden

Peter and Julie’s outdoor space was a traditional cottage garden before a radical redesign 10 years ago

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