Garden Room Inspiration From Tulips and Thai Orchids

Garden Room Inspiration From Tulips and Thai Orchids

By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

Empty, empty airports and planes — that’s what I’ve seen lately on my travels.

I recently returned from a trip to Ireland, as I had wanted to visit my house in Ireland all summer. June, July, August came and went, but with the coronavirus pandemic, international flights just weren’t an option.

So when Ireland opened up to Level 3, I decided to take the journey and then quarantine at my home. I did so and enjoyed walking the lands and resting, enjoying the quiet life. There were no big gatherings, no traveling around the country and no visits to pubs.

Gardening filled my 14 days, with 1,900 tulip and daffodil bulbs planted and window boxes filled with hyacinths. Last March, I missed seeing the yellows and pinks of the flowers — and the cherry blossoms speckled with sunshine. So next March, I hope to return to the land of green meadows to see the results of the bulbs I planted this year in full bloom.

I’ve often said that I believe folks who plant a garden are folks who believe in tomorrow. And I am hoping that we will someday enjoy many tomorrows in a world free of COVID-19 — or at least one where the devastation of the disease is controlled by vaccines and treatments.

The new Palm Beach season has arrived, and that means we are soon to put the hurricane months behind us. So for those lucky enough to be in Palm Beach, let us celebrate the new season with a jolt or two of color. What a pick-me-up that would be, after a tough year for all of us. Let’s celebrate the joys of color everywhere, inside and out.

Perhaps it’s time for a new color on your front door. Or maybe your garden needs replanting with tropical flowers. I love colorful orchids, whether planted in pots or hanging from palm trees.

When I’m looking for an exotic inspiration for a new color scheme, I often look to the east, the Far East. Those who have visited Thailand with a stop in Bangkok know that Thai silks are available for apparel as well as home décor. The late designer Jim Thompson, who was lost in Cambodia some years back and never found, is credited with having revitalized Thailand’s silk industry and helping preserve all though beautiful colors of lime, yellow, orange, purple and pink. His house in Bangkok, which today is a museum, is filled with traditional Asian furnishings and treasures and with colorful drapery and upholstery.

Why not go for a Thai-inspired scheme in your garden room for this season? Begin by painting the walls a soft tangerine color, perhaps with a sponge glaze. The trim could be pristine white and the ceiling a pale sky blue.

For the windows, I’d choose roman shades featuring a Jim Thompson block plaid woven of pink, tangerine and lime. The bottom of the shades would be trimmed with black grosgrain ribbon.

Select a McGuire-style wood-frame sofa finished in black lacquer, with cushion backs and seats in lime green. Accent the sofa with pink and orange Thai silk pillows. Black Thai-style end tables can be fitted out with lamps that have lime-green bases and topped with black shades.

Underfoot, I’d like to see handsome raffia rugs atop clay-colored tile floors.

An eye-catching accent for the room would be a fan-back chair in natural rattan with a soft cushion of black Thai silk. You can find a top-notch selection of Asian accessories and perhaps other Thai chairs at Paula Roemer Antiques on West Palm Beach’s Antique Row. Paula has a new shop at 7110 S. Dixie Highway that’s filled with everything to outfit a Jim Thompson Thailand-inspired garden room. She can be a great consultant!

And while we’re on the subject of the wonders of Thailand, I can’t resist a recommendation for the Thai food at the Oriental Food Market & Take-Out at 4919 S. Dixie Highway ( The cashew chicken, the spring rolls and other items on the menu are superb. And the co-proprietor, Kamjree Mitchell, known as Julie, is a treasure.

Julie runs the store, and her husband, Kosit Prisarojn, who goes by Sam, stirs up the delights. The shelves of the shop within the restaurant are filled with Thai delicacies. A favorite of mine is the Hoisin sauce, which adds a touch of flavor to many dishes

November, December, and January in South Florida find the snowbirds returning to enjoy the beauty of our Palm Beach — although, truth be told, it seemed like many of our northern residents never left this summer, so busy was the traffic on the island.

A new season means it’s time to support our local businesses — the flower shops, the boutiques, the galleries, the restaurants. May I suggest again calling the Tropical Fruit Shop, at 561-832-3449, for the sweetest grapefruits and oranges on earth. Owner Stephanie Bojokles will deliver — and if you’re ordering fruit, you might also think about adding one of her magnificent Key lime pies.

Welcome to the season!

1 comment

  • Olive Ivess on

    I am so happy you got to visit Pallaskenry, I am sorry I didn’t get to see you. I hope that you make it back in March to enjoy the sights of the beautiful daffodils and cherry blossoms. They are always a sight to behold. The garden has certainly been a sanctuary in these times. I have enjoyed many days in my own garden, no where is more soul soothing. Stay safe. Olive & Family

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