BENEATH A MEXICAN SKY

DESIGN Manoj Malde SPONSOR Inland Homes Plc CONTRACTOR Living Landscapes

"I WANTED TO CREATE something quite different from what you usually see at Chelsea. I was in a very different position to most designers in that I’m unknown at Chelsea, so although I’ve worked with Diarmuid Gavin, Chris Beardshaw and Nick Bailey on their show gardens, I have a chance to make a statement.
“My inspiration came from seeing the work of Mexican modernist architect, Luis Barragán. His work is so amazing I thought he must be a young, up-and-coming architect, so was disappointed to learn that he’d passed away in 1987.
“His work uses bright, colour-washed walls juxtaposed against each other. I’m of East African/Indian descent, born in Kenya, and some of my earliest memories are of Mum’s beautiful saris, which is why when I saw Barragán’s work, the colour drew me in. I really wanted to create a garden inspired by his work, keeping the design fairly true to Mexico.
“I had read he struggled in his career so it seemed fitting that I reflected that struggle by choosing drought-tolerant plants that can succeed against the odds. The trees I’ve chosen are beautiful multi-stemmed Arbutus unedo trees from Italy. They have a very sculptural branching structure, with no training or trimming.
“For rhythm I’ve chosen Agave americana, Agave peri truncata, Agave attenuata and Agave parrasana, working them right through the garden. They’re all very different but do share a family resemblance. I’m also using Kalanchoe behariensis which has heart-shaped leaves that are like touching velvet, Catalpa bignonioides, lantana, salvia ‘Royal Bumble’, anigozanthus ‘Big Red’, cosmos ‘Big Orange’, Verbena rigida, Cleome hasselriana ‘Violet Queen’, gaura ‘Siskyou Pink’, bearded irises ‘Serene Moment’ and ‘Modern Woman’.
“The flowers are mostly in pink and orange to bring out the wall colours. There are a few touches of purple and lilac here and there, and dark wine-red as well as little shots of other colours.
“The furniture is from a lovely company in Italy called Roberti Rattan and I’m also getting cushions picturing the plants made up by Botanical Cushions. I’m using tall concrete planters with iroko rims from Indigenous Planters to complete the modernist look, and a wire horse sculpture by Rupert Till.
“The big challenge for me is making sure the plants are absolutely ready for Chelsea, and in flower. Also, we’re using micro-cement with a metallic sheen that will make the pavers over the pond look like zinc. It takes three days to set, so we really don’t want it to rain!”