Driving between two limestone pillars you come to a metal gate that swings open as you approach. On the access road, you pass under a flaming Royal Poinciana. You are on your way to an historic Art Moderne home with Art Deco touches thats comfortably nestled under sweeping live oaks.
Besides the flame tree, other splashes add color to the three acres on which this house stands including dozens of green, yellow and red heliconia blooms. They are superb this year, says Sallye Jude, who lives with her husband, Dr. James Jude, in this Coral Gables home.
The colorful blooms hang from the tropical plants set along an alley that has a fountain down the center with 40 jets shooting water into the air.
But its not these colorful plantings weve come to see. Instead, its Sallyes White Garden that takes up about a half-acre and draws our attention.
No matter what time of day or what season you visit, theres sure to be something white and bright in bloom. The trick to creating this garden is finding plants that bloom at different times of year, Sallye says.
Come in the evening and the garden will look and smell entirely different. Instead of dappled sunlight, the moon reflects off the flowers as well as the white and green variegated foliage that fills this area of the garden.
Now think of the exotic aroma of sweet almond, the sweetness of white magnolia, the heady scent of night blooming jasmine and the gentle accent of white frangipani. The combination of fragrances is heady.
When this home was originally built by Charles Baker Jr. in 1936, it sat on 11 acres. Baker became known for traveling and writing about food and drink after he married Pauline Elizabeth Paulsen, an heiress to the Paulsen mining fortune.
Returning home from their travels to Indonesian islands, he and his bride bought this site and built the home they dubbed Java Head.
When the couple put the house up for sale, the property was divided for development. In 1964, the Judes purchased about 1 ½ acres including the original house.
At first, they didnt do much gardening. James was a noted thoracic surgeon. And I spent my time and energy on raising seven children, Sallye says.
But after Hurricane Andrew tore through the area in 1992, most of the landscaping on the southeast side of the property was destroyed except for a few live oaks they could rescue and two banyan trees.
The property had a number of coconut palms but they had succumbed to lethal yellowing.
What didnt go by hurricane death went by natural death, Sallye says. That left them with a fairly open space with which to work.
They purchased an adjoining 1 ½ acres where the original pool house, pool and tennis courts still stood. And they went to work redesigning the landscape.
James wanted water features including a central pineapple fountain surrounded by neatly trimmed podocarpus. And to this day, that fountain still fills the garden with the gentle sound of flowing water.
When you come to the fountain, you can turn to your right in order to enter the alley, proceed ahead toward the pool and banyan tree or follow the limestone path to your left past the oversized white begonias.
They are your introduction to Sallyes White Garden. Ive always loved green and white as a color scheme, so thats what I wanted in my garden, she says.