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The Kapnick Caribbean Garden is designed to give the visitor to Naples Botanical Garden a prism of landscapes through which to view the natural and cultural history of the islands of the Caribbean.A visitor touring the islands of the Caribbean today would encounter diverse landscapes ranging from mountain tropical forests with lush, exotic plants to low islands largely characterized by dry forests, savannahs and species of cactus and scrub. The diverse landscapes of the Caribbean are often a reflection of a complex and varied human history. From the distribution of plants and entire plant communities by indigenous peoples, to the region's role as the gateway for the arrival of European explorers and their "Old World" plants for food and commercial uses.

Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean marks a pivotal point in the history of the region and a visit begins with the Pre-Columbian garden. Here are plants both native to the region and food plants carried by the native peoples as they migrated into the islands from South & Central America. Some of these plants, such as tobacco and chocolate brought great economic change to the "Old World."

The Post-Columbian period is represented by the Explorers' Garden, the Plantation Garden, the Citrus Garden, and the Coconut Grove containing plants of economic importance from Europe, Asia and the South Pacific that forever altered the landscapes of the islands. Continuing, the visitor will see an example of a house occupied by laborers of centuries past. From here guests can stroll through the Palm Garden or under the vine-covered arbor along the Great Lawn with views of the River of Grass. At the far end of the garden, paths lead through the Jungle Garden, the Dry Garden, and the Salt Garden to the Lake Overlook with its water jets aligned with the garden's view corridors.

Designer & History

Robert Truskowski
R. E. Truskowski, Inc.
Laguna Beach, California
For the past 34 years of his career, American landscape architect Robert Truskowski has created formal gardens in the South of France and tropical sanctuaries on Mustique, floated king palms down Florida's Intracoastal Waterway, trucked in 40-foot conifers to a Lake Tahoe property to provide an instant wall of privacy, and researched saltwater systems for a shark lagoon in the Red Sea. Truskowski, who established his landscape architecture business in Laguna Beach, CA, in 1971, moved in the mid-1990s to Greenwich, CT, where he worked with the late Sister Parrish, the influential doyenne of the New York decorating firm Parrish-Hadley. Today, his larger projects average 8 to 10 acres and are handled by his three offices and staff of 16. "I try to do gardens that are timeless," he says.

Current projects include restoring and expanding a classic Lockwood de Forest estate in Montecito, CA, and designing a private 30-acre botanical garden in Hawaii. For each, Robert researches new plants and materials, scours local sources for decorative antiques, and allows the architecture of the structure to determine the direction of the garden. "I am very fortunate," he says. "I create other people's fantasies."