From the Crow’s Nest | HOME & GARDEN
THOMAS JEFFERSON ONCE DECLARED, “The greatest
service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful
plant to its culture.” Since March, both clients and staff of the
Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute have been doing exactly that
by growing a variety of herbs in a hand-constructed container
garden conveniently next to the Institute’s recreational centre
from where clients can look out of the window and observe.
The herbs at present include chives, plain Italian parsley, sage,
lemon balm, curly parsley, Thai basil, mint and sweet marjoram,
and are greatly appreciated by Bermuda Hospitals Board executive chef Thomas Frost, who started using them in recipes in
KEMH’s kitchen a few months ago. “These new MWI home-grown plants will further enhance our commitment to culinary
excellence,” he says. From a practical point of view, the herbs
from the garden not only help the chefs create better taste but
also save the Food Services Department $120 a week since
they are donated.
Recreational therapist Donovan Williams, who heads the
project through the New Dimensions Day Programme, says
that the project has been a great success. For many partici-
pants, including recreational therapist Akil Darrell, gardening
has been an entirely new experience. Clients in wheelchairs are
also able to participate since the container is raised. “Gardening
is a very calming experience,” says Darrell, “especially watering
the plants. It’s very soothing and keeps you calm and relaxed.”
As Juliet Basden, activities coordinator, says, “The pro-
gramme is vital for our clients’ enrichment.” The clients, who
range in age from 24 to 60, like to work outside. “It keeps the
younger ones, who can do the heavier work such as lifting
buckets, energised while the older are able to work at their own
pace.” Williams agrees saying, “Our clients really look forward to
gardening. The more they do it, the more they like it.” The project
is also appealing to community groups who live outside the MWI.
Plans are in place to create another four container herb
gardens so that more participants can be involved and herbs
can be harvested throughout the year at regular intervals. Williams is also planning to grow sunflower seeds, which like the
herbs will attract bees and butterflies and add to the learning
yard and pool area while entertaining in the family room. The structure
of the house allowed for opening walls, adding beams for support and
allowing the rooms to breathe. The Bermuda stone walls were re-plas-tered, introducing a waterproofing agent into the plaster, and structurally, the house was sound and ready for a new lease on life. There were
areas that were quirky, such as the front buttery (that used to be the
pump room), which was turned into a bedroom closet as it was too
small for anything else. The lower indoor patio, once damp and musty,
became the gym.
The living room maintained its symmetry as the centre of the house
with views through its triple set of French doors. The entry of the home,
characterised by a traditional fanlight and cedar door, was maintained
but made wider, increasing the viewing opportunity through the living room to the ocean. To the west of the house, the bedrooms were
maintained and renovated with en suite bathrooms, and to the east the
living spaces and master suite were renovated and added to for privacy.
The living and dining rooms, once heavily draped and chintzed-out,
were redesigned using a soft palette of neutral colours that created the
essence of the home.
Symmetry plays a large part in traditional architecture; in many instances the houses were designed with symmetry and balance of spaces.
When rooms are opened up, that symmetry, once hidden, stands out
more in an open-plan concept. Rooms connecting to each other bring
harmony to the interior space while maintaining a feeling of intimacy.
When these rooms are opened up to each other with larger openings,
the house is transformed from a dark, cozy house into a cool, light-filled
home. Open-plan elements for today’s family living and future aging-in-
place parameters can provide comfort into the retirement years.
Landscaping also takes on the same life as the house. The original
asphalt driveways and overgrown invasive plantings of the landscape
were stripped and endemic plantings and lawns were rescued. Pergolas,
courtyards and pools also have their time and place. The original pool
was removed and replaced with a fabulous beach edge/infinity pool
while maintaining the shade structure on the cliff edge with built-in
seating added for relaxation.
Bermuda has tried and true materials with flora and fauna that can
provide years of enjoyment and sustainability. If your home is lucky
enough to have a decent amount of land with mature trees, those trees
would have been planted in locations that would have provided a high
level of passive shade to keep your home cool. Today when we build
new homes, trees are typically taken down and homes and sites are not
always designed to capture the cooling breezes or provide protection
from the hot sun with trees used as passive shade. A series of simple
low-maintenance plantings that provide colour and aroma such as
frangipanis, lilies and grasses were used and when allowed to multiply,
will provide additional plantings as the landscape changes over time.
Landscape planning is critical to a successful renovation and adds a full
complement to the architecture and interiors.
There are so many surprises that follow a renovation on an old
Bermuda home. It takes a trained eye, though, to catch those elements
worth saving. If the front door leads your eye to a back door with a
view, you have a winner. Just buy it and the rest will work itself out.
WRITTEN BY ELIZABETH JONES