The designer of this garden, which sets sculptural plants against vibrant backdrops, was inspired by Mexico

Visitors to this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show enjoyed an award-winning and colourful design, dramatically different from any other garden at the 2017 show. The bold, beautiful creation, named ‘Beneath a Mexican Sky’, transported visitors to the garden’s namesake and its designer, Manoj Malde, took his inspiration from the modernist architect Luis Barragán, famed for his unique use of colour. Painstakingly selecting the perfect shades for his huge colour washed walls, Malde used them as backdrops for cacti, agave and other drought-resistant plants. Soothing pools of water complete the tranquil scheme.

Garden at a Glance
Show RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
Garden designer Manoj Malde of Couture Gardens
Contractor Living Landscapes
Sponsored by Inland Homes
Prize awarded Silver-gilt Medal in the Fresh Gardens category

Photos by Jonathan Buckley

Their backgrounds may be different, but when Manoj Malde first came across the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragán he felt an instant affinity. “My ancestry is Indian and I was born in Kenya, so subconsciously I’m always attracted to colour and when I discovered Barragán’s work I thought it was really amazing.”

Recreating the architect’s trademark concrete structures from textured stud walls and meticulously finding the right shades, Malde created a set for plants more commonly found in the Mediterranean and the Americas than London SW3. It’s hard to believe that this mammoth project is Malde’s first Chelsea Flower Show garden, but it’s the culmination of many years of creativity. “I worked for 18 years in the fashion industry so I know a fair bit about colours and how they work together,” he says. “I’ve brought that experience and I apply it to garden design. It’s about all the details coming together.”

The garden was designed to look just as impressive at night. “The site we were allocated was pretty much south-facing so we got lots of sun and we strategically positioned lights in the borders so that in the evening the light would shine through the plants and create amazing shadows on the walls,” says Malde


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