The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Vertical garden on board Stella Maris

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Vertical garden on board Stella Maris

Craft

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Tropical plants, zen gardens and palm trees – nothing is off limits when it comes to superyacht gardens.

By Dominique Afacan | 6 February 2019

Back in the 1990s, when Axel Massmann first stepped onto a superyacht in Anguilla, something struck him as odd. “I looked around and realised that there was no nature on board,” he says. “I couldn’t understand it.” For Massmann, who had studied landscape architecture at university, then progressed to interior landscaping in shopping malls and hotels, a move into the yachting world seemed like an obvious solution. Yacht-Green, which specialises in landscaping for yachts, was born.

Fast-forward a few decades and incorporating greenery onto superyachts is becoming more and more popular. On board Boadicea, there is real grass and tropical plants on the upper deck. On Sea Owl, there’s a herb garden. Ocean Paradise has a zen garden. And Stella Maris has a glass-enclosed vertical garden. The list goes on.

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Axel Massmann

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Axel Massmann

There are a few philosophies as to why the trend took so long to catch on – but Massmann thinks it was originally down to lack of supply. “Back when I began, nobody had tried it before,” he explains. “Everybody was scared – and of course gardening or landscaping on a yacht is very specialist; dealing with plants is almost as complicated as dealing with animals!”

Massmann prefers to work with shipyards from the outset, rather than bringing in token green efforts as an afterthought. “Longer-lasting solutions are enabled when you do things this way,” he explains. “We might require special recesses in the decks, irrigation and drainage systems, automatic humidity measuring devices, additional lights for specific plant types and much more.” Done correctly, the garden becomes a living, breathing part of the boat, not to mention a far more permanent solution than cut flowers or potted plants.

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Herb garden on board Sea Owl

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Herb garden on board Sea Owl

Espen Oeino, who designed the Stella Maris project, agrees. “That boat has a two-level garden – it was the first real, serious built-in facility for plants on board. We had to think about proper irrigation, drainage and lighting. ” VSY, the shipyard which built the yacht, also worked to introduce a controlled micro-climate on board, ensuring the gardens could be maintained in whatever season. “Since Stella Maris, gardens and green spaces are becoming more and more popular,” says Oeino.

Of course, landscaping for the interior and exterior of superyachts each prompt entirely different considerations. “For the exterior of a yacht, you can’t just use any plants you want; you have to look at where the boat will be going,” says Massmann. “If it’s staying in the Med, it’s quite simple. Take a look outside; we can use all the same things – from olive trees to eucalyptus trees.” For interior landscaping, the considerations revolve around the room the plants will be in. “What is the temperature going to be like in there? Is there sunlight? What is the room being used for?” asks Massmann.

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Designer Espen Oeino

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Designer Espen Oeino

Vertical gardens have thrived in hotels and shopping malls in recent years thanks to their sustainable appeal and ability to clean the air and combat pollution. On yachts, they offer an additional space-saving motivation. “When you green horizontal areas, you lose a lot of space, so what I enjoy is creating vertical areas on board to combat that,” explains Massmann. On superyachts, where every square metre counts, it’s easy to see why they’ve become popular.

Massmann also points to another motivation for having green space on board. “If you’re staying on board for long periods of time,” he explains, “you start to miss greenery. You want to have more nature close by – not just stainless steel and glass and so on.” Designer Espen Oeino, who has worked on multiple yacht projects with gardens, agrees. “Especially on the bigger boats, people spend less time in port and longer at sea; perhaps they just miss nature. It is a big part of our lives, after all.”

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Zen garden on board Ocean Paradise

The increasing trend for gardens on board superyachts

Zen garden on board Ocean Paradise

Considering many superyacht owners and charter guests use their yachts specifically to reach some of the most beautiful natural scenery on the planet, is it any wonder they are now wanting to bring a taste of these places on board? “It has already gotten to the point where gardeners are required as part of the crew,” says Oeino.

“My dream would be to a build an actual biosphere on a vessel,” says Massmann. “A huge glass winter garden a couple of decks high. I’d like to design it so that you could almost believe you were in the rainforest – we could even arrange some rain!” It might sound far-fetched, but in the superyachting world, anything is possible.

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