Chelsea garden pays homage to Mexican architect

The work of Mexican architect Luis Barragan is the inspiration behind the design for an exciting Fresh Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show (23rd to 27th May, 2017).

Designed by Manoj Malde, for sponsors Inland Homes plc., and Living Landscapes. ‘Beneath a Mexican Sky‘ pays homage to Mexican born Barragan (1902-1988) who became associated with the movement known as Escuela Tapatia or Guadalajara School, which espoused a theory of architecture dedicated to the vigorous adherence to regional traditions. Although Barragan trained as an engineer, his architectural skills were self-taught. In the 1920s he travelled extensively in France and Spain and is known to have attended Le Corbusier’s lectures.

Barragan’s work might be described as minimalist but with sumptuous colour and texture and this will be reflected in Manoj’s design for Chelsea. A generous courtyard is turned into an inviting space, evoking a feeling of calm. Barragan’s signature colour washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic backdrops to the planting scheme, offset by concrete slabs floating across a large aquamarine pool, often seen in Barragan’s work.

Water pouring in the pool will create a soothing sound at the edge of the seating area. Rupert Till’s copper wire sculpture captures Barragan’s love of horses. Because of the architect’s love of horses, he designed many stables, fountains and water troughs that manifest many of these same qualities.

Manoj (pictured above) will use drought tolerant plants that merge Mediterranean style with country cottage planting. The garden will be designed around two natural, mature multi-stem Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) providing structure for the garden. Agaves provide rhythm and softer drought tolerant herbaceous planting breathes beauty into the garden.

Manoj has a personal interest in Mediterranean plants; their struggle to survive also representing Barragan’s struggle to be accepted as a recognized architect.

Manoj attributes much of his love of colour to his ethnic background and Indian ancestry. He is a graduate of the Master’s programme in fashion design at the Royal College of Art, a career that has taken him across Europe and to Hong Kong and India. He studied garden design at the English Gardening School and now enjoys bringing much of his fashion experience within his present career as a landscape designer.

The contractor on the garden will be Living Landscapes a multi-award winning landscape construction company directed by Tecwyn Evans.

Manoj is the Principle Designer of Couture Gardens and information about their work can be found on their website at

Good luck to the team as they prepare for RHS Chelsea.

All illustrations © 2017 Manoj Malde