Palm Paradise

A Member of the Coral Gables Garden Club, Jeanne Ann Rigl (and Husband Charlie) Have Created a Showcase of Palm-Punctuated Flora in the Lush Landscaping of her Home

By Karen F. Buchsbaum

July/August 2019

Originally built in the 1930s, Charlie Rigl describes his home as a “run of the mill” George Fink house, where he and wife Jeanne Ann moved in 1966, and where they raised their family. But there is nothing run of the mill about their yard, which Charlie and Jeanne Ann have cultivated for decades.

Along the way there have been challenges. Hurricane Andrew wiped out Charlie’s orchid house, along with a Canary Island Date Palm. But this merely set him on a determined course to build a palm collection. He got
tips from friends and began attending the annual Palm Sale at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to supplement his plantings. Some of his favorites include an Old Man Palm and an expansive Ponytail Palm.

Gardening has long been a passion for both Jeanne Ann and Charlie, who took a very active role in the yard work until recently, now transitioning into more of a supervisor. Debra De Marco was grounds manager of the Doral Resorts of Florida when she met Charlie more than 30 years ago and began advising him about landscaping. Today she owns DDM Horticulture Services and regularly helps Charlie and Jeanne Ann keep the yard maintained and refreshed.

Charlie Rigl and his wife Jeanne Ann moved in to their George Fink designed home in 1966

Jeanne Ann has put her imprint on the landscaping with creative, artistic touches throughout. It was her idea to turn a Japanese Fern Tree, usually planted as an ornamental tree, into an unusual hedge across the back of the property. One of her ongoing projects is to tend to several Euphorbia Punicea trees, with their striking red flowers, which she has nurtured from seeds.

Orchids like the Wooly Congea add splashes of color to the yard and still find a good home underneath the trees. A native Lignum Vitae tree with blue-purple flowers thrives along with colorful bromeliads, date palms and stately royal palms. It all comes together in a mixture of opulent and variegated hues.

Jeanne Ann loves to cook and confesses that if she were solely in charge, the garden would probably be filled with vegetables. Case in point: the substantial pot near the front door filled with what must be the largest rosemary plant in the Gables, enviable for any chef.

A few years ago, the Rigls were honored with the Landscape Beautification Award from the City of Coral Gables. Today the yard is still a showcase and a testament to years of dedication. It was, and still is, an evolutionary process for the couple.