India Hicks' lush Bahamas garden
There is something both pleasing and slightly incongruous about seeing a beautiful woman go barefoot. At Hibiscus Hill, her lovely island home in the Bahamas, that woman is India Hicks. It follows then that in her garden, this free spirit lets nature speak. It does so eloquently, from the landmark Bismarckia palm that commands the grounds to the frangipani blossoms that perfume a tablescape on her terrace.
“We wanted it to feel very wild, very natural, and very organic,” India says of the classic plantation-style home she and partner David Flint Wood bought in 1997. “When we cultivated the three acres of jungle surrounding our home, David grew an enormous number of palm trees from coconut seeds. They started as babies, and we have raised them into teenagers and adults. They’ve become part of our history of living here.”
As a mother of five, ages 5 to 16, India knows a thing or two about nurturing. A model, blogger, author, boutique and hotel owner, TV correspondent and host, and designer of jewelry, fragrances, and home furnishings—as well as second cousin to Prince Charles, who is her godfather—she is both British and design royalty. Her late father was designer David Nightingale Hicks, a ’60s and ’70s icon known for his jet-setting clients, eye-popping palettes, pioneering mixtures of antique and modern furnishings, and inimitable style.
It was because of her father’s work on his own beach home nearby in 1967 that India came to know these islands. Though she spent Easter holidays at that home as a child, she didn’t take up residence in the Bahamas until after three decades in London, Paris, and New York. “I could never go back to the city,” she says.
One of the gardens India loves most is the one her father designed in Oxfordshire. Though her own garden is more “haphazard,” she says, “It still reflects his core belief in symmetry.”
Hibiscus Hill is approached via a long palm-tree-lined driveway through the jungle. The blindingly white house hidden by large hedges has a narrow entryway that opens to a large terrace. India likens the terrace to an Aga stove in a British kitchen, because everybody gathers there. “We love serving cocktails on the terrace, and when the children are home at holidays, we wheel out a Ping-Pong table,” she says. David, a hotelier, topped a sturdy dining table with a big sheet of plywood, “so we don’t have to find more tables and move things around.” The family enjoys picnics on the beach, and when India’s mother, Pamela Hicks, is visiting, proper English tea. (Mrs. Hicks is the daughter of Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy of India—hence India’s name.)
A few steps down from the terrace, a swimming pool is discreetly screened by a wall of greenery. Beyond the pool is an avenue of palms where “we have taken to having our Christmas lunch,” India notes. A highlight is a “Wendy house” (after Wendy in Peter Pan), painted in bubblegum-and-white stripes for 5-year-old Domino. (In earlier incarnations, the playhouse was white and red for Domino’s older brothers.) Also eye-catching is an obelisk David made for India as homage to her father’s love of all things Egyptian. India laughs, “He had a local carpenter, a good friend who likes a drink or two, help him. After they made a wood frame and poured the liquid cement in, it wouldn’t set due to humidity, and they had to try again. But the result is very successful.” As is the garden—a living archive that holds the treasures of her family’s life.
Photography: Colleen Duffley
Tropical breezes beckon. India, who mostly eschews air-conditioning, loves to live outdoors.
Poolside Terrace and Outdoor Living Area
India, partner David Flint Wood, and their daughter Domino relax. Behind them looms the property’s imposing Bismarckia palm tree.
Mother and Daughter
India shares a laugh with Domino, who was named for the “Bond girl” in the movie Thunderball, which was filmed in the Bahamas.
Inviting Terrace Table
Set with the tropical bounty of pomegranates and pineapples, a table is covered by one of the versatile, washable quilts India designed for HSN.
Tropical bird Jenga strikes a camera-ready pose.
Color-Happy Backyard Playhouse
David designed it, and India decorated the inside. Now painted pink and white for Domino, it has gone through several renovations as the hangout for her older brothers.
See more of the playhouse on the following slide.
Domino reads in the doorway of her candy-colored playhouse.
A Home Full of History
David had it made for India, whose late father, designer David Hicks, loved all things Egyptian. The obelisk is one of her most prized possessions, along with a folding travel clock given to her at birth by her godfather, the Prince of Wales, and artwork by her children preserved in the scrapbooks she keeps.
Designs Inspired by Island Life
When India was designing her Island Living line for HSN , she heard the voice of her late father, designer David Hicks, saying, “Good taste and design are by no means dependent upon money.” The collection reflects her philosophy. “Rather than live in an over-decorated house, I like a home with a lived-in feel, highly personal effects around me, and a slightly sophisticated edge—but very family-oriented,” she says.
Motifs for her washable quilts (dachshund Banger poses on one, above, on India’s bedroom terrace) come from the ocean where she swims. “They don’t need to live in a bedroom,” she says. “I use them as blankets for picnics on the beach and wrap the kids in them in front of the TV.”
Bougainvillea adds a jolt of color to the mostly quiet plant palette.
Tropical Tabletop Décor
A candlelit table on the terrace is adorned with seashells and delicate frangipani blossoms.