Crocus pokes through melting snow… trees and shrubs blush with buds… around the world, spring brings a welcome change of scenery.
To honor the season of renewal, we talked with green-thumbed Airbnb hosts in Massachusetts, Brazil, Washington, Australia, California and Seoul about how nature inspires them, and what spring brings to their turf.
- Host: Jana—Salem, Massachusetts
- Garden style: cottage, edible
“Without my garden, I feel as though my Airbnb accommodation is incomplete,” says Jana, who welcomes guests to her 1870 cape home mostly in summer and around Halloween (Salem is notorious for witches). “I love giving my guests a little tour of my yard and garden and sharing the wonderful things that I grow and love. I want them to be greeted by the beauty of greenery and flowers.”
In late March, her casual, cottage-style garden was mostly mud. But in her basement, production was already underway for 14 varieties of tomatoes, 8 types of squash, as well as zinnia and dahlia for her cutting garden – all organic, started from some 400 seeds under grow lights. What makes Jana so motivated? The satisfaction that she can “help guide nature,” the well-earned ache from digging holes and lugging rocks, and, of course, “lots and lots of delicious tomatoes!”
- Host: Wernher—Natal, Brazil
- Garden style: tropical
Wernher’s private tropical retreat is good enough to eat. “This is the season of mangoes, mangabeiras, pitangueiras, and bananas,” says the Brazilian host, who has shaped the grounds over 20 years into a soothing escape from the bustle of city life. An elevated patio is the perfect gathering space for barbecues, shaded by an immense thatched roof and surrounded by coconut palm, agave, and other signature tropical flora.
A river runs through the estate, its banks lush with tropical textures, shapes, and colors. A Japanese-inspired footbridge steps up the charm. Native plants are the majority here. Foreign species? Not so much, unless you’re talking about the international guests who venture here to get away from it all. “It is a garden of tropical inspiration,” says Wernher.
Off the beaten path
- Hosts: Kurt and Lisa, Marrowstone Island, Washington
- Garden style: meadow, woodland, edible
“Spring here is an extended affair, which slowly unfolds with almost metrical pacing,” says Kurt about the gardens and grounds that surround the 10-acre Western Washington property he and Lisa, both biologists, share with nature lovers from around the world. Migrating ducks return. Spring peepers fill the air with song. Osoberry, wild currant, crocus, narcissus, wild trillium all bloom in succession; the big leaf maple puts on an exotic display. Their guests are “looking for a connection with nature or some peaceful quiet,” says Kurt. “Our private gardens and grounds nurture those needs.”
The land was used as a horse pasture when the couple purchased it in 1989. A progression of low-impact land management practices have been carefully followed over the past 25 years. Today, the bucolic landscape ranges from “lightly manicured to benignly neglected wildness.”
“We maintain a system of mowed paths and trails that access a diverse habitat of wetlands, upland meadow, and woodland,” says Kurt. “The working gardens include an orchard with over 50 fruit trees and berries. The organic vegetable and herb gardens provide us and guests with seasonal produce.”
- Host: Miranda—Tasmania, Australia
- Garden style: formal meets rugged
Spring arrives in September at Miranda’s waterfront home in Australia with a “riot of color”: pink, yellow, and orange of gazania, pigface, succulents, seaside daisy, African daisy, and daffodil. “A home with no visual barrier to the view is a big draw,” says Miranda, who describes her garden as “a blend of organized and rugged.” Beyond the tapestry of colorful flora are sweeping views of the rocky shoreline, Mount Wellington and the city of Hobart.
“Everyone says exactly the same thing when they first arrive: ‘Wow!’ I love that so many people have been able to enjoy our outdoor spaces and have visibly relaxed while here,” Miranda says.
- Host: Bill and Nancy—Mariposa, CA
- Garden style: permaculture, edible
Bill and Nancy describe their 1896 restored Victorian farmhouse and working farm as “an oasis in the dry Sierra Foothills,” but also a “labor of love.” The land had been farmed on and off since the Gold Rush era, but over a span of 30 years, the acreage had returned to its natural prairie state. “We worked for days in the summer sun with picks to break up the rocks so we could build our gardens,” says Bill of the couple’s “permaculture” farm. “Most everything we plant has a purpose in our ecosystem. Some things we eat, some things condition the soil, others provide shade or support beneficial insects.”
International visitors attracted by the farm’s close proximity to Yosemite National Park are treated to a homegrown bounty of kale, potatoes, carrots, melons – except when critters get to them first. But the salad days may be over for pesky garden raiders: Bill has built a “skunk and deer buster” out of an old microprocessor, strobe light, hi-fi tweeters, and infrared detectors.
- Host: Kelly—Seoul, South Korea
- Garden style: urban cozy
Kelly nicknamed her listing “Wonderland” after the vibrant murals inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Van Gogh that she painted with some local artists to make her outdoor space more “cozy” and inviting. “It’s in the middle of Gangnam, which is very urban, so it’s pretty rare to have a yard space in this area,” she says. “I host a lot of barbecue parties and my guests are always welcome to join me and my friends. It’s a good way to meet local people.”
The garden plot isn’t big but it’s action-packed, Gangnam-style. A swing, picnic table, tea table, and benches share the space with a grape vine and ginkgo, chestnut, persimmon, and jujube trees – all of which bloom in spring. “We actually produce quite a lot of fruit and share them with neighbors and guests,” she says. “They are tasty, especially the persimmons!”
[Top photo from Mountain Top Vineyard Getaway, in Vacaville, California]