Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Pure Pleasure of Palms

You know how some people like the sight of a great big dirty cocktail while they're on holiday? And others prefer the image of a deserted beach with nothin' but a naked sky and a cerulean blue sea between them and life?

Well, we love the sight of one thing.

The strangely comforting lean of a humble palm tree.

{Illustration at very top by the supremely talented Sara Midda. Do look for her books this Christmas. They're beautiful.}

Any palm tree will do. In fact, you could just grab a log, toss some fronds on the top and we'd be happy staring at it.

Palm trees are a curious kind of tropical tonic. And also strangely hypnotic, don't you think? Toss a hammock between two and see how fast you fall asleep.

It can't be long before the world finds out about the secret pleasures of palms. I know coconut water is being hailed as the hot new remedy for life but I'm sure they're going to find a way of distilling the rest of the tree's by-products, too.

Palms. Mother Nature got it perfect with this one.

{Both images directly above and the one below by me, from Florida and the Whitsunday Islands}


Royal Palm Tree Plantation, Molokai

Old Town Key West. Where palms meet colonial architecture.  {Pic: Me}

India Hicks' Palm Frond earrings. {Via India Hicks' online store, The Sugar Mill –}

Doris Duke at her Hawaiian home Shangri La. These glorious photos are now showing as part of the Doris Duke Shangri La exhibition at New York's Museum of Arts and Design before travelling to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.

The Moorings, on the Florida Keys, which was built on an old coconut plantation. They've kept all the palms, and the trees make the most delightful garden to walk through. {Another image badly taken by me as it's was so dark, and I'd probably had a cocktail or three.}

Antique French table lamps from 1st Dibs, via Hollister Hovey.

The Moorings,  Florida Keys.  {Pic: Me}

Islands Magazine.

Hamilton Island's Catseye Beach.  {Pic: Me}

 A palm tree swing. The Koh Chang Grand Lagoona Resort.

Harbour Island at 8am, by India Hicks, from her always inspiration and often humorous blog {}

A palm tree-lined bathroom at Goldeneye Jamaica, the former home of Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond). {Via Goldeneye –}

Agatha Christie's quirky journey through the tropics. 

Oscar de la Renta's magnificent 'palm garden' on his Dominican Republic estate. {Via AD}

Taschen's enormous (and enormously fascinating) Book of Palms, which is as heavy as a 100-year-old date palm.
Manuel Canovas' beautiful Bahamas fabric.

A simple but glamorous Oyster Bay beach house designed by Christine Murphy. {Via House Beautiful}

Elizabeth Taylor's former home in Palm Springs. My friend lived right next door to this extraordinary estate. She didn't tell me this until I noticed the Japanese tourist buses pulling up outside. When she did reveal who her neighbour was, she allowed me to sneak down to the bottom of the yard and peer over the fence. (So unladylike!) There were 30 (I kid you not – 30) gardeners fussing with the palms. That was more astonishing that see the Nikon cameras flashing out the front.

One of the now-iconic image of CZ Guest beside her Florida pool. One of my favourite photos. {Via Life}

Palm stilettos. Perfect for tropical nights. {Via Tommy Ton}

Albert Park, Melbourne, on a balmy summer's night.
 {Pic: Me}

A party at the always fantastic Lorelei Cabana Bar on the Florida Keys.  {Pic: Me}

And lastly, a palm tree coffee... So fantastic.
{Unsure of source but wish I knew.}


  1. I adore palm trees. My yard in California is littered with them and my home on Vancouver Island has multiple tacky lamps and photos of them. They just say "holiday" to me.

    1. Oh, that yard sounds amazing! And any lamp designing like a palm tree is not tacky at all.

      Vancouver Island is beautiful. I loved the Butchart Gardens. x

  2. luff a palm tree on the hols.

    Luff CZ so much. Her real name was Lucy. She looks like a Lucy don't you think?

    1. Very much so! I love her hair too.
      And that pool... Looks like it was stolen fom the Hearst Castle.

  3. So true Janelle, for me palms instantly evoke associations of tropical escapes and drinks served in coconuts....except that, as I type with one finger, I am looking at some curious species of palm growing in my own garden.....and there's nothing tropical or exotic about Hobart! NRx

    1. Yes, but Hobart has magnificent gardens, and I'm sure the palms in yours make it seem lush and beautiful. WIll email you re a request. xx

  4. One of my favourite things is the sound of a late afternoon summer breeze rustling the palm fonds outside my home. It says summer, Christmas, time off work, aah total relax mode.
    Such a beautiful collection of photos.

    1. You sound like you're having the best Christmas. Reading books in the sun with palm trees swaying above. Might join you for a cocktail, I think.

      Wish we were doing that rather than driving 9 hours to Adelaide in a hot car through towns like 'Tetanus' (can't remember real name) and with dogs that are panting their protests in our faces the entire time. And then, at the end, staying in a cheap motel in North Adelaide (because the Hilton was the only other place that would accept dogs and their 'dog charge' was $500 a dog). All to visit family...But I guess it's worth it, isn't it?

    2. Yes it is worth it! Look it is already a family history in the making ie "remember the time we drove to Adelaide for Christmas with the dogs?".
      You would always be welcome here!

  5. Dear Janelle
    All these beautiful palm images bring back many memories of our two years in Sri Lanka and its beautiful palm fringed beaches.
    In the old colonial house where we lived, I chose for the lounge room curtains a beautiful quite heavy cotton/linen fabric with large palm trees on a cream background, not unlike the Canovas fabric, but with more plain cream background. Along two sides, the large windows opened to the garden, shaded by tall trees and filled with tropical plants. It was green on green. The walls were white and the high ceilings and fans white also. The furniture was mostly old Sri Lankan tropical wood. We bought quite a few heavy old brass and bronze pots, with a polished patina that glowed in the rays of light falling through the trees. We always had fresh flowers or brilliant leaves from the garden scattered around in the pots to introduce a little colour (mostly reds, oranges, pinks). It was quite beautiful and people used to say that after the chaotic streets of Colombo it was like coming into an oasis. So simple, peaceful and green. Many good memories. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Sri Lanka (I always preferred the old name, Ceylon) is meant to be such a beautiful country. Your memories and photos of your time there must be incredible. And that living room sounds glorious! Love the sound of the fabric.

      Did you ever see Slim Paley's post on Sri Lanka?

    2. Dear Janelle

      Just loved it. Brought back so many memories. Also fantastic that she climbed Adam's Peak (which we did many years ago - it's a pilgrimage for Sri Lankans, and quite beautiful if the weather is good, but also rather an endurance test - I climbed in high heels, but that's another story). Her photos were magical. Best wishes, Pamela

  6. and they have a unique smell ,,or should I say scent?

    1. Mmm. I agree. I also like the whooosh of them as the wind blows the leaves, although I've never been near one when a coconut's cracked off and fallen. Wouldn't like to be swinging in a hammock underneath that. xx


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