In the '90s, Jack Rice took a business trip to Kauai with his wife, Kathy. Almost as soon as their plane touched down, the couple fell wildly in love with the Islands. Over the next few years, the couple frequently returned to Hawaii with their sons, John and Matt, ultimately visiting all the major Islands. Kathy took up hula dancing; Jack fantasized about buying a place there. “I love plants, and envisioned dragging a hose around my garden in Hawaii,” he says. But their sons (now grown) wanted to stay in California.
So Jack and Kathy decided to bring Hawaii to Orange County. At first, Jack simply replaced a few junipers bordering the front lawn with palms or cycads. But then the couple hired designer Brian Ackerman to turn the whole yard into a tropical oasis. The large swimming pool was redone (making it smaller and shapelier), and Ackerman added a thatched-roof pavilion that recalls a Hawaiian hale. Throughout the garden, they layered on more tropical plants.