Kathy Rayner knows about gardens. Over the course of three decades she has created a much admired garden in East Hampton, inspired by travels with her husband—the late Condé Nast executive and accomplished watercolorist William P. Rayner—to Europe, the Middle East, and India. Indeed, the challenges inherent to working on what is essentially a sand dune kept Mrs. Rayner fully occupied on Long Island, and she had no ambition to start gardening in the tropics. However, the acquisition in 1997 of a small house in Palm Beach (Billy Rayner had spent much of his childhood there, and had many lifelong friends in the area) changed all that, and brought with it an opportunity to refine an aesthetic sense of place without the usual constraints imposed by a conventional residence. This house was intended to be, and has remained, an Ottoman-inspired bolthole.
When Rayner began to think about her Florida garden, she recalled an afternoon spent years earlier at her friend Lilly Pulitzer‘s house on the island. The Pulitzer home was surrounded by what was, in effect, a cleverly designed jungle, and it occurred to Rayner that if ever she were to attempt a tropical garden, then this would be the way to do it. After all, a jungle, in theory, requires little more than native plants and considerable rain, both of which are in plentiful supply in Palm Beach. Of course, reality always puts theory to the test, and it happens that a Palm Beach garden does need its fair share of attention.
To realize her concept of a (semi) urban jungle, Rayner enlisted the help of Palm Beach garden designer Denis La Marsh.
Get a sneak preview of Rayner’s garden, and read the full story behind it in PALMER Vol. 1, available now.