By India Lloyd
Sandy, the former senior vice president of Dart, designed the landscaping for Salt Creek, a process that encompassed the private homes and public spaces. However, Sandy attributes the success of Salt Creek to the culmination of many elements working in harmony, such as the land planning, architecture, and, of course, landscaping.
“I think the land planning at Salt Creek was more important than the landscaping,” explains Sandy, who now runs his own design consultancy company, Urquhart. “Land planning is the organisation of the fundamental, ground-breaking issues, like the position of the house on the block. Many canal developments in Cayman don’t pay attention to this.
“Salt Creek’s uniqueness lies in the quality of the housing. We wanted to keep the environment in its natural state.”
The preservation of the mangroves was essential to Salt Creek, Sandy says, for both environmental and aesthetic reasons. It enabled the protection of this crucial vegetation without detracting from the visual allure of the homes.
“Mangroves are the most productive forest in the world,” Sandy says. “By keeping the mangroves, you are taking care of the little lobsters and fish that are protected by the mangroves. It also softens the transition between the land and the water. In most canal-front homes, the transition between the land and water is very aggressive. The mangroves soften this experience. It is more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing.”
Within Salt Creek, Sandy used predominantly native and indigenous vegetation, much of which was sourced from the extensive Dart Nursery. From the mangroves, the landscaping becomes more organised closer to the homes, creating an evolutionary effect. While similar material has been used in each garden, the looks are strikingly diverse.
“I consider the native and indigenous plants the skeleton of the body. They are the kidneys, the lungs, the heart,” explains Sandy, who also had a hand in the interior design of some of the homes. “The plastic surgery is the exotic plants.
“[At Dart Nursery] we spend a lot of time studying and researching the plants that should accompany this environment. Each garden is different, but we used similar materials to create different looks. We had to take into account the North East winds, which are the predominant winds for these particular plots.” Sandy continues.
“I treat the canals as I would treat a street.”
The blocks within Salt Creek are located close together, yet think vegetation creates a sense of privacy and intimacy within the homes; each garden feels like a sanctuary and barely a sound can be heard from neighbouring yards.
When it came to the public spaces, such as the streetscape and the amenities, Sandy was aware of the importance of creating multi-functional areas, which could be used for relaxation and recreation. He wanted the streets to be welcoming to homeowners, reflecting Salt Creek’s emphasis on community.
“I believe each house gifts its front to the street. The road is like a park. It’s shady, it’s great for exercise, for prams and for people to walk,” Sandy says. “I like to use interesting details in the landscaping. There is an enormous amount of public space at Salt Creek.”
Attention to detail and exceptional quality are not only hallmarks of Sandy’s work, but of Salt Creek as a whole.