Let it Grow: Inside a tropical garden in The Villa

Behind the doors of Dubai-residents Craig and Jennie’s organic garden in Dubailand

Garden in Dubai villa
A tropical paradise in The Villa

A garden quite unlike any other I’ve seen in Dubai, to walk into Craig and Jennie’s  densely green plot is to be transported. It’s somehow noticeably inspired by the couple’s journey around the globe, yet otherworldly in nature.  

Winding mandevilla and jaquemontia vines cascade down the home’s architectural arches, giving the space an ethereal feel, while towering trees, hearty bamboo and mature bushes provide welcome salvation from the hot sun. “It’s like a sanctuary,” Jennie says, “you can’t hear anything, apart from the song of birds.” 

Jennie in her garden
Jennie standing in her garden

The road to crafting their lush garden was, as one might imagine, paved with dedication and effort.  “It’s all thanks to my husband,” says Jennie fondly. “It’s just become his hobby.”

The process began five years ago after they moved into this house – partly as its large garden was ideal for homing their five cats and two dogs. “When we first got here, the garden was quite private, there were damas trees all around, front and back, but there was no way that we could have built the pool with the number of roots under the ground,” recalls Jennie. “When we pulled them all out it was wide open and naked, that’s when we started planting tonnes of bougainvillea,” the mum of one explains. “Then little by little we built things up and now we have this incredible garden.” 

Tiki bar
A Tiki bar sits on the patio area

Originally from America, Jennie lived in India and Nepal before meeting her English husband, Craig who had been working in Malaysia. “We were both used to the rainforest and that’s definitely what we missed when we moved here,” explains Jennie, who works in education. “Now, when I walk around the garden I can see which countries my husband has been influenced by. For example, the bamboo roof with palm leaves on top was inspired by a trip to Bali.” 

Pergola in The Villa Dubai
The pergola area has an ethnic feel

Although inspired by journeys abroad, a lot of the wood used has been repurposed from the local community, “most of the time he’ll pick things up from friends or some Facebook group.” 

Natural wood table
A natural wood table

Particularly appreciating her husband’s handy work over the lockdown, Jennie explains that the garden provided much needed tranquillity. “It was a blessing that we never expected, with both of us working from home.” Along with providing enviable home office views, the couple were also able to spend time outside, even during the hot months, “because there is so much shade, we were able to be outside on summer afternoons and evenings – which we didn’t know about our garden as we’re usually not here.”  

Swimming pool in The Villa Dubai
The blue swimming pool

Using mostly native plant species, Craig and Jennie have been able to create an ecosystem of their own, one that requires very little maintenance. “We only water around the edges,” says Jennie, “It’s very organic. It grows full on, gets cut back and starts all over again according to the temperature.” At the time of the shoot, Jennie informs us that the garden was not at the height of its bloom potential, but she concludes that this is all part of its, “wild tropical charm” and you’d be hard pressed to disagree with that. 

Love looking around other people’s gardens? Take a peek at Lan Stanley’s paradise inspired space in The Meadows, or at a garden in Jumeirah Park that was designed with entertaining in mind

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