Project: Estate in India
Andrew Duff MSGD tells Zia Allaway about a new garden he is designing in Ooty, India, and the challenges this poses
Andrew Duff MSGD worked as Associate Designer for John Brookes before setting up his own design practice, and has built an international reputation for his garden and landscape designs. Andrew is also MD of the Inchbald School of Design and lectures in the UK and abroad. He has recently developed an ambitious design for a large estate in Ooty in India.
HOW DID THE PROJECT IN INDIA COME ABOUT?
I was approached by my Indian clients after they found me on the Society of Garden Designers’ website. They own an estate in Ooty in the south of the country, which is set in the hills and surrounded by tea plantations. The house is an old colonial building and the clients wanted a design that would reflect the landscape and local vernacular, as well as complementing the historic property.
WHAT WERE YOUR INSPIRATIONS FOR THE DESIGN?
I flew over the site and was inspired by the organic shapes of the tea plantations, which informed the irregular shapes of the lawns and pathways in my design. The planting weaves around these features and, from above, the pattern looks like an abstract piece of Indian jewellery. The subtropical climate also demands areas of shade, which I have introduced with trees and shelters, where you can escape from the sun and the monsoon rains.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES OF DESIGNING IN INDIA?
The main challenge was the planting, as I was unfamiliar with plants that would thrive in this climate. However, the clients introduced me to a local nursery, which they wanted to supply the plants, and the owner and I came up with a planting scheme that would work well. Something I would not have previously thought about is the noise the monsoon rain makes, which can be deafening when it batters down on large-leaved plants. This has meant that all the planting I designed close to the house has to have small leaves so the rain won’t keep the clients awake at night.
WHO IS INSTALLING THE GARDEN?
We have a local team working on the project, headed up by the man who looks after the Ooty Botanic Gardens. The garden is almost finished, but I will be flying over soon to place some key plants and check on progress. The project has been a great opportunity, and there is now a lot of interest in India for high-quality garden design, so I’m hoping more commissions will come through in the future.