Gardens

How Lan Stanley created a tropical paradise in her Meadows garden

How one Meadows resident created the perfect backdrop for ‘me time’ 

Lan Stanley sits on her pool in the garden

“My garden is a place for me to reflect,” says artist and socialite Lan Stanley through a candid smile. With her dress purposefully matching the tropical tones of her outdoor space, there’s no denying Lan’s appetite for fashion. But as she reclines in the shade of her gazebo, you’re able to catch a glimpse of her unfiltered, relaxed self. 

The garden itself spans a large area with a bright blue swimming pool taking centre stage. The supporting act of the show? A huge, vibrantly coloured, bougainvillea bush that contrasts with the tiles beneath the water. Offset to the right, a gazebo adds a holiday feel to the space and its shelter provides the perfect antidote to the hot sun. 

Having bought the four-bedroom house with her husband eight years ago, it was important for the mum-of-one to have a garden that the family could unwind in. “I wanted to create as much open space as possible,” Lan explains, “There was a waterfall and sculpture when we moved in, but I removed those and planted more trees. The walls were a brown colour, so I painted them in this crisp white colour myself – it took ages!” she laughs, “but it was worth it in the end.” A dab hand with a paint brush, the Vietnamese-born, professional artist studied fine art in Hanoy before moving to New York, London, and finally Dubai, showcasing her art as she went. 

Lan tells me she painted the lilac painting of a woman (titled Book Memory) whilst in New York. “When I moved to America I couldn’t read as I did in Vietnam as I don’t read English well. So, the painting was to remind myself of my love of books and how I grew up reading,” she explains. 

“Most of my paintings are about people,” says Lan, “How they socialise together and all their behaviours – the good and the bad. Having the time and space to reflect is important for my artwork.” It’s clear to see how her simple, yet distinctly tropical feeling garden lends itself well to alfresco unwinding. Along with a host of solar powered lanterns dotted among the bougainvillea, there’s also a solar speaker playing soft classical music. “I mostly spend time in the garden in the evening when it has cooled off,” she explains. “I love to listen to relaxing music by the pool. My cat usually joins me as I sit and enjoy the peace. Although I go to a lot of parties, I am actually a very private person. I like my own space to be peaceful.”

Palm trees that line the edges of the space afford Lan her desired privacy. “I love my date tree as it attracts a lot of bird life,” Lan enthuses. “We get lots of fruit from it too, so I like to give some away to friends and neighbours.” Growing up in Vietnam, being surrounded by nature has always been important to her. “I had to fill it (the garden) with a lot of greenery as I love nature.” 

The green space been a welcome slice of paradise for Lan and husband over the last six months. “It’s been nice to sit back and reflect on what truly matters,” she tells me, sipping on a glass of lemon juice. And with a garden to sit in that feels akin to being in a five-star tropical retreat, it’s clear to see just why Lan looks so very relaxed.  

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