Garden and event designer Renny Reynolds affectionately describes his Florida property as a cross section of Marrakesh, San Miguel, and Udaipur. The landscape appears like a tropical tousle of greenery and flowers vying for attention from pedestrians who can’t resist peering over the wall. A closer look reveals an artistic, Indian-inspired entry with intricately carved doors and ornate, mahogany-stained columns. A riot of magenta bougainvillea drapes along a pergola above pots of assorted flowers while three large bronze bells dangle from a wall. And all of this is before you even walk through the home and step into the backyard garden.
Here in charming, sometimes quirky Lake Worth, which Renny calls “a little Greenwich Village,” the designer is minutes away from West Palm Beach. “I love it here,” he says. “This town has strong historic ties and is filled with many full-time residents who are artists, writers, and caterers with lots of kids and pets. It feels like a small town.”
Renny explains that his home is actually a compound of four buildings built in 1965. The previous owners painted it “Pepto Bismol pink,” which was one of the first things to go when he moved in with his three rescue dogs. “Later, I focused on the garden around the pool,” he says. “It was kind of a wreck, but I could see its potential.”
That vision turned into what can best be described as a planned jungle. Stately palms and sea grape trees surround the pool, along with an array of exotic orchids and potted blooms. Two oversized stone frogs holding golden fringed parasols from Bali keep watch over the scene. Several seating areas of vintage wicker, decorative iron daybeds, and furniture pieces upholstered in bright colors dot the garden, while candle lanterns and tin starlights stand ready to illuminate the space come nightfall.
Along a path near Renny’s freestanding bedroom, bath, and office structure, an all-white garden features a pristine Indian marble fountain. Beyond, colorful beds of tropical blooms enliven the greenness of adjacent Lake Worth Beach Golf Club. An open-air pavilion provides sophisticated cover for the frequent outdoor parties the designer loves to orchestrate.
Overall, Renny’s “planned jungle” illustrates the fact that his imagination knows no bounds. His exotic inspirations and prodigious plantsmanship combine with his signature non-chalance to create a visual mélange that delights all who enter.
While his newest property chronicles a glamorous, South Florida life, Renny likes to also acknowledge his Missouri roots. “I’m from St. Louis. You don’t get more Midwestern than that!” he says. Following his degree in landscape from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he toured the world as a travel guide for the firm Intrav.
The combination of a solid education and close-up study of other countries ensured that Renny’s sense of wonder would never diminish. That was evident when he moved to Manhattan and opened a small plant and garden shop in Greenwich Village. It radiated palpable panache that created an instant buzz.
In no time, Renny was dreaming up events for venues across the country, including The White House, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Rockefeller Center, as well as private and corporate venues such as the presentation party for Opium perfume he staged for Yves St. Laurent and the “Manet and the Sea” opening he did for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “At the latter, we used turquoise moiré tablecloths and mauve barnacles with lighted orchids,” Renny says. “It was magical and one of my favorite parties I ever did.”
The designer is also known for the spectacular 100-acre Hortulus Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that he owned with his late partner, garden journalist and author Jack Staub. Featuring 24 gardens, the property is now part of a foundation dedicated to preserving its past while serving as a place of respite and education for visitors from across the globe.
By Marion Laffey Fox | Photography by Monica Buck