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 Casey Key porch

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Living Naturally

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

The landscape and architectural design of an island property pays homage to Florida’s diverse ecosystems

Photos by Greg Wilson and George Cott

With one look at this slight island property on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it’s easy to see how the state got its name. From the dune grasses and cabbage palms that skirt the beach to the graceful live oaks that stretch down to the Sarasota Bay and the lush landscape in between, the land recalls Ponce de Leon’s vision of “La Florida,” or “flowery land.”

It’s fitting then that when new owners purchased the property in 2006, their new home began with the land. They called on local landscape designer John Wheeler to assess the property, which housed a dated Cape Cod amidst a tangled, overgrown site. “I knew there was something amazing underneath but you couldn't see it,” Wheeler says. “We came in and removed the invasive materials and it was like sculpture coming alive in that oak canopy. A gorgeous site was revealed.”

Wheeler recommended long-time collaborator Jerry Sparkman of Sweet Sparkman Architects to help the owners achieve their vision for the estate. Like the couple and Wheeler, Sparkman was struck by the natural landscape. “It’s an extraordinary property,” he says. “Drawing from the site was a thread that went through the whole design process. We often look to sources of inspiration that aren’t architectural, and this particular site was so rich with those sources of inspiration.”

Pick up a copy of the latest issue of Design Bureau to see the full story in good old-fashioned print.

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