THE MASTER KEY – a tropical oasis at home in the Florida Keys


When landscape architect Craig Reynolds first saw this residential property in Key Haven, Florida, located in the lower Florida Keys, it was an overgrown mess with plantings that were out of scale to the site and there was no balance or flow. In addition, a large proportion of the half-acre lot was given over to a parking pad.

Homeowners Mark and April Jones brought in Reynolds to transform the jungle into a livable landscape. Mark, who before his retirement had led a peripatetic business life that took him around the world, asked for outdoor dining and a koi pond in a garden he would never want to leave. His wife April’s only request was for a bridge over the pond.

The first thing Reynolds did was rethink the parking space. Instead of leaving it in the heart of the garden, he moved it and the garden fence to the property line. Now the enclosed garden circles the house, allowing visitors to stroll through the spaces, enjoying the various textures and colors provided by the plant combinations, as well as the unveiling of the different garden rooms and settings.

“We hired a Miccosukee tribe crew from the Everglades to put on the sabal palm roof,” says Reynolds. Cantilevered over the pond so that it appears to float, the indigenous structure harmonizes with its setting, and due to the brilliance of the Native American design, is cooler than most Western-designed open-air structures. “The hot air rises and seeps through the thatch, and because the roof edges come down low, it protects the space from both sun and rain,” explains Reynolds.

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