We come to Mallorca for the climate and the joys of spending as much time as possible outside. When you’re creating a home on the island, how you design your garden and terrace is fundamental to enjoying the quality of life you’ve come here for. With this in mind, I spoke to Jennifer Warren-Gash, a partner in highly regarded Mashamba Garden and Terrace Design with her husband Alexander.
Could you tell me a little bit about yourselves, Jennifer?
I would certainly call us international. Alexander grew up all over the world as part of a diplomatic family, spending a large chunk of time in Africa before being shipped off to the UK to be educated. I grew up riding bareback in rural Texas and living the outdoor life. We met and fell in love in Costa Rica, where we were both living and working.
How would you describe what Mashamba Garden and Terrace Design does?
We believe that most people come to Mallorca to spend their time outside and we see the service we provide as a way for them to realise their vision of living the Mediterranean dream. Everything Mashamba Garden and Design does, then, is about outdoor living but there are two sides to the business. The garden design and general landscaping side covers the grounds of a property as a whole and includes everything from the driveways to the planting areas to other practicalities like irrigation systems. Then there’s terrace design. This focuses on furnishing the core terraced areas around the house and pool and bringing them to life.
Could you give me an overview of the kind of projects you take on – gardens and terraces?
Since getting started about ten years ago, we’ve built up a rich and diverse portfolio – everything from modern front-line gardens to large country estates in the mountains. As a result, we’re equally competent working with a remodel or expansion as we are with a blank canvas. The most important element for us is that any new project, irrespective of size, allows us a degree of creative license to create something special. One of the projects that we’re currently working on near Porto Cristo incorporates one of Alexander’s signature ‘aromatic meadows’ with a series of paths leading through the grasses, lavenders etc. On the terrace front, we are currently working on a front-line penthouse suite with extensive outdoor space in Palma. The owners are looking to maximise their quality of life and make the most of their top euro real estate.
Do you work with other specialists?
Over the years we have built up our network of go-to people. Gardens can be relatively complex and as you can imagine, this being Spain, working out who is the true professional has been an interesting process at times! That said, we now have full confidence in our teams and also have the good fortune to be called upon as specialists ourselves by architects, interior designers and so on.
How does Mashamba Garden and Terrace Design differ from the competition?
Our aim has always been to be better than everybody else. Whether we achieve this or not is up to everybody but us to decide, but we put our heart and soul into every project that we take on. We deliver our designs and presentation with a sense of pride and oversee all elements of the installations to make sure they’re completed to a high standard. The fact that we continue to visit our clients and their gardens years after they were created shows that people are satisfied.
How do you win business?
We work through all the standard marketing channels, such as our website and social media, which are obviously effective, and we’ve had numerous articles published about us in glossy magazines. But as the business becomes increasingly established, both repeat clients and referrals now make up our best generator of projects.
How does a typical project evolve?
Any new project is multi-phase. It always starts with the initial site meeting. This helps to determine the parameters of the job at hand, whether they be stylistic, budgetary or defining priority areas. Next, we put together a concept plan and present it to the client. This allows both us and the client to make sure that we are on track or anything needs to be adjusted. When the concept has been approved, we go ahead and fine tune the design and start the quoting process. The presentation itself comes with a highly realistic digital walkthrough of the project, offering the client a clear view of what they can expect. This comes accompanied with explanatory notes and specifications, a fully itemised quote and a plant portfolio. On approval of the design and quote, the project is set in motion. Once a garden project is finished, we usually incorporate an aftercare service to make sure that the garden is properly maintained for the first few months. How long all of this takes depends very much on the project.
Is there a busy time of the year for you?
In the office, we’re busy all year round, working on designs. For field work and installations, it’s best to work between September and May, leaving the hot summer months free. Although this fits in nicely with our lifestyle, it’s far more in homage to the plants. Planting them in the high summer is not a good idea.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give for anyone choosing a garden designer for a garden on the west coast as well as in Mallorca?
Water is obviously a very serious consideration. Before anything is planted, it’s important to know about any limitations that might be in place. Stylistically, the west coast is a naturally beautiful and rugged environment and any garden should look like it belongs in that environment.
What are the key things potential clients should know about you?
We think of ourselves as very creative and professional. We always aim to do things well and quality control is very important to us. We are passionate about what we do and are especially motivated by projects that allow us ample creative license.
Where do you live in Mallorca?
We live in an old stone house in Alaro at the base of the Tramuntana mountains, in a lovely sheltered, south facing spot with lots of citrus and lavender – a wonderful piece of rural Mallorca where traditions are still strong.
Why did you come to the island?
Very simple. Quality of life. There are few places on this planet that offer the same kind of advantages as Mallorca. I don’t think that I need to list them.
What do you love the most about Mallorca?
We have now been living here for 10 years, and there can be few people that clock as many miles as we do working all four corners of the island. That said, we still get out and do something different that would turn most people green with envy most weekends and, in spite of how long we’ve been here and how much travelling we’ve done on the island, we’re still discovering new places. Mallorca has so much more to offer than first meets the eye.
What’s your favourite thing to do on Mallorca?
I am still a sucker for the early morning swim, when the sea is glassy calm and there’s generally not a soul in sight. That for me is true bliss, where I can soak up the real beauty of this island.
Thanks, Jennifer. I quite agree.
We’re delighted to announce that Jennifer and Alexander will be contributing to a regular gardening post on our blog. Watch this space!
Find out more about Mashamba Garden and Terrace Design here.