When interior designer Leslie Connell needs to escape, she takes to the personal meditation garden she planted at the Moorings Park complex where she lives. There, butterflies flutter from the blue plumbagos to the bright white Asian snows to the dazzling pink impatiens that line the stone path leading to a Buddha head statue.
Communities with condo buildings sometimes have green plots that residents can reserve and use to plant a communal garden or otherwise have access to green space—an amenity that has become all the more attractive since the pandemic.
Connell, who co-owns Aqua Design of Naples, decided to make the most of her 40-by-17-foot plot by turning it into a meditation garden, with colorful foliage inspired by Bali and the Buddhist traditions of monasteries in Bhutan.
She tapped her realtor friend Tami Eilers to help plan and plant the garden. Eilers, who used to work as a horticulturist and landscape architect, knew they’d have to be mindful of the Florida elements when considering the flora for the space.
Once the duo decided on the overall aesthetic, they visited local garden shops, including Driftwood Garden Center & Florist and American Farms in Naples, to stock up on Naples-appropriate plants. “A good rule of thumb is to consider what you see the most of in town, and especially in the garden centers,” Eilers says. “They carry the tougher, tried-and-true perennials.” She also suggests that you pay attention to how much shade the plants get in the shop and place them similarly in your own garden.
For Connell’s space, the duo opted for lots of butterfly-attracting pink, blue and white flowers, and bromeliads, like the silver-spike odorata. Tiki torches next to the Buddha statue illuminate the space at dusk, while two benches provide a nice place for her to unwind. “Especially since the pandemic, this has become a place where I can go and the hours just pass,” Connell says.
Photography by Tina Sargeant