Landscaping is recognised as playing an important contribution to the well-being of patients, with Parrot Ridge beside Health City Cayman Islands being no exception.

Photos by Stephen Clarke

Providing support accommodation to the medical facility, Parrot Ridge is an apartment complex with beautifully landscaped grounds, and a unique pool, set within a large existing native woodland.

Within the 100-plus acre High Rock Landing development, which includes Health City, there is a landscaped area of around 22,000 square feet, comprised of lawn and garden.

Eventually, the continually expanding complex will include hospital facilities and services, residential housing, retail services, commercial office space, a retirement community and more.

Native plants

Designed and installed by Kurl Knight and his team at ARCADIA (Landscape Design and Consulting), the landscaping places a heavy emphasis on the use of native plants and sustainability.

“The use of native plants provides a sustainable solution to conservation,” says Kurl. “They need little care after planting as they have already adapted to their environment.”

Native plants also require less water and fertiliser compared to exotic species, and are more disease-resistant, as well as being a food source for local wildlife and helping to preserve Cayman’s biodiversity.

Kurl ensured that several rare and vulnerable species were identified and either retained in their location or transplanted, while plants to be installed were propagated and grown in a small nursery that was established specifically for this development.

Water for the grounds is recycled, and rainwater is harvested for irrigation purposes.

Where possible, materials were also reused, such as felled trees that were shredded and used as mulch.

“The landscaping around Parrot Ridge provides an excellent example of how to work with your surroundings in order to provide as minimum a disruption as possible,” says Kurl. “It provides a good example of how native plants can be used to produce a beautifully landscaped area.”

Unique pool

The swimming pool is unique as it has been given an organic shape that fitted in with existing topography, which Kurl found to be the most interesting part of the whole design process.

“I came up with so many design iterations for the pool, but none of them really worked,” he says. “They just didn’t fit the space. Finally, I took a different approach; I walked through the woodland to get a feel of the terrain and I embraced the existing topography and then decide on a location for the pool that would provide the least disruption and excavation.”

Kurl eventually designed the pool on-site by marking it out, taking the measurements and then transferring the details to create the plan by computer.

“The result was a beautiful, free-flowing pool with planters and large trees in the pool, and outcrops of rock coming out of planted areas,” he says.

Parrot Ridge received its name because of the large number of parrots found in the trees surrounding the buildings.

Parrots

The name Parrot Ridge is also reflective of the native birds that exist in the vicinity of Health City.

“The developer chose bird names for the complexes within this development because there are a lot of birds found in this area,” says Kurl. “Parrot Ridge received its name because of the large number of parrots found in the trees surrounding the buildings. The other complex is called Heron Place.”

Research

Undertaking the landscaping at Parrot Ridge has also been a learning exercise for Kurl, which involved extensive research into native plants, and many meetings with the developer to discuss the plant selections.

The High Rock anding logo was inspired by the roots of a large ficus tree found on the development.

“I spent countless hours trekking through the woodland to get a sense of place and a greater appreciation for how the footprint of the building would fit into this space,” he says.

Kurl spent time earmarking woodland areas he wanted to retain and was pleased to work with local plant expert Joanne Mercille, who assisted with the identification of existing trees. One building was actually shifted in order to save a rare tree.

“This was a valuable learning experience for me,” says Kurl, who is well aware of the therapeutic benefits of gardens in a hospital environment.

“A walk through nature can have a very calming and healing effect,” he says.

Gene Thompson of High Rock Landing said they would continue to find sustainable ways of integrating the built and natural environment during the expansion of the development.

“As we continue to develop, we will maintain the same philosophy of enhancing and embracing the natural environment,” he says. “The restoration of native plant habitats is vital to preserving biodiversity.”

 

Originally published in InsideOut magazine, Issue 37, Spring Summer 2020.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now