When looking for inspiration in your garden, Cuba can offer the perfect combination of features. Architecture and culture aside, the country has lots of examples to help spark your creative chords when it comes to creatures and plants. According to the American Museum of Natural History, Cuba is the 4th most biodiverse country, and the best in the Caribbean.
Vinales photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash
With a little bit of planning when it comes to landscape and plant species, a garden fit for the backyard of a Cuban home can be yours. Doing it properly requires a bit of thinking to ensure that you can maintain the features you put in. But, do it right, and you can enjoy a Cuban beer spritzer in the sun, all from the comfort of your own home.
Looking towards architecture
While colonial-era palaces and villas dominate the traditional image of Cuba, there is much to be seen past that style of construction. Cuban architecture has evolved over the years, as National Geographic outlines, to encompass gleaming new constructions alongside colonial masterpieces and art deco influenced styles. As a result, there’s a lot you can use in your garden. Consider using a range of styles in your outdoor space to achieve this blend. Your shed or outhouse can find ample inspiration in colonial styles; whereas borders, landscaping and decking might be better assisted by the fine detail of art deco.
Photo By Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Casting your eye upwards
As well as being a hotbed of biodiversity, Cuba is an international trailblazer for forest conservation. According to official statistics, 30.6% of Cuba is forested, up from 27.6% as recently as 2010. The island takes great pride in its forests and that's reflected in gardens, and can be a key element for your theme. The Cuban Royal Palm is one of the key tree types, and can be grown in a hot climate but is otherwise a hardy tree. It will provide shade and a real tropical feel to your space, though you must be careful not to let it grow out of control - they can reach 70ft. They can be found throughout the country, and Havana palms provided sustenance to soldiers in the war of liberation.
There’s also the leafy Kapok, which will provide a little culture and spirituality to your garden. It’s renowned as an important plant in many religions, Catholicism included. It also has deep ties to Cuba’s history - a particularly impressive Kapok stands near the famous Plaza de los Trabajadores, famous for its union usage and its cresting Che Guevara mural.
And the other plants
Aside from the trees, Cuba plays host to a huge range of other flora that can brighten up your garden. The white ginger orchid is a particularly beautiful flower, bringing bright pink to your garden that can tie in nicely with colonial and art deco pastel colorations. It also has a key part in Cuba’s history - the gorgeous rolling Soroa orchid gardens founded by Tomás Felipe Camacho are a huge feature of western Cuba.
Consider the solandra grandiflora, or showy chalice vine, too, which can bring yellow and white gentle gradients to your area that can tie in to any sandstone architecture you’ve opted for, tying with the classic look of Cuba. Beware, however, as the flowers and stems are poisonous. The showy chalice vine has its own place in history, too, as one of the multitude of carefully curated indigenous plants kept around Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in San Francisco de Paula.
Cuba has a much-vaunted look, shaped by its curious and idiosyncratic history. Architecture of contrasting styles meld together flawlessly, aided by the gorgeous vegetation of the island. Marrying the two together, you can craft a Cuba-inspired garden, the perfect place for rest and relaxation.
Written By Jennifer Johnson