When Alexander and Jennifer Warren-Gash moved to Mallorca from Costa Rica in 2008, they were following a dream. They wanted to settle somewhere warm, Spanish speaking and safe
where they could raise raise a family while making Mashamba into the first name people think of when it comes to relaxed luxury and elegant Mediterranean outdoor living.
Prior to meeting in Costa Rica, Jennifer and Alexander were already well-travelled.
Jennifer had moved to the Central American country from Texas. Alexander, whose family had a diplomatic service background, had grown up in exotic locations. This gave him the profound love of wildlife and nature that is the foundation for his garden design philosophy – mashamba is a Swahili word roughly meaning fields. Aged twelve, he went on his first scientific expedition into the jungles of Cameroon and subsequently made several journeys into the remote and unknown. Three species of butterflies are named for him including the beautiful blue Iolaus Alexanderai.
By the time he met Jennifer in Costa Rica, Alexander had gained a Bachelor of Arts degree and lived in Africa and Costa Rica where he’d captained a fishing boat and begun designing and building luxury homes and gardens.
Today, Mashamba is well on the way to becoming the byword for luxury and elegant Mediterranean outdoor living that Jennifer and Alexander dreamed it could be. In the past decade or so, the company has worked on around fifty outstanding garden design projects in Mallorca. ‘We only work on a handful of gardens a year as we dedicate ourselves fully to each project,’ Jennifer explains.
In addition to handling the communications side of things, Jennifer heads up Mashamba Terrace. This handles aspects of outdoor living such as – anything from bespoke garden art and sculptures to modular outdoor kitchens.
Attention to detail is at the heart of Mashamba’s approach to creating sublime outdoor living spaces in Mallorca for, as Alexander describes their clients, ‘a set of smart, elegant and artistic people that truly value a lower pace of outdoor living and are willing to invest to create that magical Mediterranean idyll.’
This and Mallorca’s ‘stunning geography and a great climate conducive to outdoor living,’ is, he adds, ‘a dream combination that enables us to really let our creative juices flow.’
Harking back to the provenance of Mashamba’s name and Alexander’s upbringing, he believes that ‘Nature itself is probably our biggest inspiration. When I look at a piece of land, I see a blank canvas and a great opportunity to create something amazing.’
Jennifer and Alexander believe the best way to complement Mallorca’s natural bounty and the tasteful inclinations of Mashamba’s clients is to adhere to a classically elegant style. Which is not to say they don’t keep up with trends in garden design. ‘If I see something new that I like,’ Alexander says, ‘I will often try and incorporate it in some way.’
Mashamba also embraces the principles of sustainability, regenerative gardening, rewilding and other kinder approaches to garden design wherever possible and practical.
‘I’m a firm believer in sustainability’ says Alexander. ‘As a designer, I know that a garden design can’t just look good on paper. It must be beautiful in real life and become more and more so as time passes. This demands a sustainable approach, working exclusively with plants suitable to the local climate and environment. It also means following the basic rules of using plenty of water, having decent topsoil and using appropriate plants. I always make sure our clients appreciate these fundamentals.’
If Alexander feels that a design might be challenging to achieve while adhering to principles of sustainability such as sensible water consumption, he will sound a note of caution.
When it comes to plants, designing for the Mallorcan landscape and climate has shaped the way Alexander designs. ‘My style has definitely evolved over the years,’ he explains. ‘If anything, I would say that it has simplified. Also, I now have a greater affinity for many of the tough and rugged plants growing wild here. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with olives, rosemary and lentiscus – a member of the mastic family and an evergreen tree or shrub cultivated for its wonderfully aromatic resin – punctuated with a little colour here and there.’
Alexander is also a fan of old school country living. If clients have enough land, he will suggest they invite local beekeepers to place hives on their land and enjoy delicious homegrown honey.
Mashamba’s clients are people who come to Mallorca to unwind and escape. As Jennifer puts it, ‘They want to create their own place of refuge where they can spend time with family and friends and make precious memories. Outdoor living is an enormous part of this.’
For Mashamba, outdoor living really is the essence of Mediterranean life. ‘Being outdoors in nature is directly related to our well-being,’ Jennifer says.
Outdoor living is also at the heart of the Mashamba promise. ‘More and more,’ she adds, ‘we see ourselves as a lifestyle brand. We are helping our clients create their own version of the Mediterranean dream grounded in one of the truest and simplest luxuries in life: having a beautiful garden.’
Making that oasis within an oasis a reality is a painstaking process. But clients have usually done their research before they choose Mashamba so they’re simpatico when it comes to style and there’s already an element of trust. They also tend to be garden lovers interested in every stage of the design.
Naturally, that design is tailored to the client’s brief. It also considers the environment and surrounding landscape as well as the home itself. ‘A garden is really what makes a home extraordinary,’ Alexander says. ‘It’s what truly makes a home the refuge and oasis our clients dream of.’
To give just one example, when Mashamba designed one Mallorca garden, the brief was to preserve some existing elements that had been neglected such as blossoming olive trees.
The design called for the pool to be surrounded by four-metre high oleanders but these blocked out light, a feeling of spaciousness and obscured the panoramic views of the island. Mashamba created a garden where the carefully maintained green areas around the house were connected with the unkept nature beyond the property’s boundaries.
Using the colours of the agapanthus or lily and the lavender plant, Mashamba created a vibrant, integrated space in a 3,000 square metre area. No mean achievement.
When the brief is agreed, Alexander will spend time on site, soaking in his surroundings and begin to formulate a plan. He will then use landscape design software that enables clients to take a digital walk through the design and visualise what the finished garden will look like.
As soon as everyone is happy with what he proposes, he and project manager Clare Ferrige will figure out how to bring the garden to life and prepare a detailed plan.
Once the project is underway, someone from Mashamba is on site every day.
Right now, Jennifer and Alexander are coming to the end of their high season which runs from September until early June.
As Jennifer says, ‘This is our time to relax a little and enjoy Mallorca at its best. The summer season is just beginning, the sea is warming up and we’re basking in the pleasure of seeing the gardens we’ve designed looking gorgeous. But, even though we’re taking time to enjoy the outdoor life ourselves, we’re always happy to hear from clients who’d like to have a chat about creating their own oasis within an oasis.’
Reach out to Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.