‘Taking a Garden to Chelsea….Beneath a Mexican Sky’
We were delighted our guest speaker Manoj Malde was able to ‘ZOOM’ his presentation to around 50 members on Tuesday this week.
Manoj started his talk explaining how his ancestry is Indian. He was born in Kenya and started his career in Fashion Design. Being a fashion designer for 18 years before wanting a career change and has now become a garden designer for over 9 years.
Many elements of his past career have been very obvious in his garden designing. The knowledge of colour and display, layout, balance and placement move easily into the planning of a garden design.
He then moved on to decribe how a garden designer takes a design idea to Chelsea Flower Show and all the hoops one has to jump through in order to even be excepted to get as far as having a show garden at Chelsea, the ultimate accolade.
Applications have to be submitted to the judging panel the previous year, so a lot of planning, ideas of a theme,what plant to use etc has to be formally submitted by July the year before you wish to show. Around July or August the submissions are judged to see if they will be going forward to a second judging. If you are shortlisted, you are given feedback and a list of any changes that would need to be implemented before a final judging is done in October when you are advised if your design has been selected.
Manoj showed us copies of detailed drawings and layouts, planting schemes and the various trial colour schemes for the backgrounds and groundwork he went through to get ‘just the look he was aiming for’
He also explained that he travelled to Europe to obtain some of the more unusual plants that he needed for his design but that in planning for Chelsea you need to have back up to your planting selection as plants do not always ‘behave’ for you so alternatives were bought too. He used a selection of plants that will be familiar to UK gardeners such as Salvias (Royal Bumblebee-red salvia) which are hardy and have a long flowering period and California poppies.
Most plants were inspired by Mexico and the Mediterranean such as Agarve Americana, Agora, Astepia, Dracena Dracco-Dragon tree. Bescanaria’s, Cacti (Stenocereus Marginatus) tall flowering Erieron, Kavinskianus (fleabane) Echeveria, Puya coerulea.
The Arbutus Unedo (strawberry tree) Manoj was very proud of as he was told by many nureries he contatcted that he would not be able to find a multi stemmed tree, only shrubs! Manoj went to Italy and found exactly what he was looking for in a deserted area in the nursery there, heavily laden with fruit and shipped to the UK in February, so it had a chance to be nurtured in the UK climate. It became a main feature of the garden.
Manoj explained that he liked and was inspired by the work of Luis Barragan , a Mexican architect and engineer born in 1902. Barragan’s signature colour washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic back drops to the planting scheme. Zinc micro-cement steps floating across a large aquamarine pool often seen in Barragan’s work.
His obsession with horses is represented through copper wire sculpture by Rupert Till and Manoj wanted the spirit of the horse to be in his garden, along with Barragan’s love of water represented by the blue pool he had within the 10 metre by 6 metre by 6 metre space he had to work with at Chelsea.
A generous courtyard is turned into a modern, luxurious outdoor space with clean linear lines. The garden appliead a new thought process, using tolerant plants that merge Mediterranean style with country cottage planting.
The garden is designed around two natural, mature multi-stem trees that provide structure in the garden. Agaves provide rhythm and softer drought tolerant herbaceous planting breathes beauty into the garden. Simple lighting created bold shadows on the walls.
Beneath a Mexican Sky gave the opportunity to bring together two subjects that resonate with Manoj….colour and Mediterranean planting
Manoj was delighted that his first ever Chelsea garden obtained a SILVER GILT medal.
A great achievement.