Interview: The Garden Studio meets Temple Magazine, Malta.
‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’ Cicero
Melina Scodanibbio and Eliza Costabel are cool. They are so cool they don’t think they are cool. How cool is that?
International and cultured, they work from a beautiful studio in Cospicua and design gardens that transform people’s lives. Melina is the plant guru: trained in Florence following formative years in South Africa, her indepth knowledge of plants and terrain enables her to make investment choices as well as aesthetic ones.
Eliza had the benefit of an internationally peripatetic childhood before training as an interior architect in California. Several years and many projects in Los Angeles and Kenya followed before Eliza returned to her birthplace of Malta.
The Garden Studio, their successful practice based in Malta, offers an integrated design service for any space where you wish to create a ‘garden’ with a Mediterranean and sub-tropical climate.
Temple - Is there such a thing as a Maltese garden?
Melina – ‘there are many influences in Malta – formal English style gardens still exist, especially with the love of the lawn that so many people have despite the labour involved, but I think there is a desire for a more environmentally conscious garden and people prefer a design which respects the surroundings and context.
We do not focus on seasonal gardens as designers but try to create a structure with the planting – perennials and evergreens – to ensure continuity for the owner. Some plants are perceived as ‘Maltese’, olive and carob trees for example.’
So how does a garden design start with you? Take us through the process.
Eliza – ‘Usually a client has a mental picture – or a Pinterest board – and we discuss what he or she wants to achieve with and from their space. We need to get an understanding of the location and connect to the surroundings. This way we can ensure that the design is achievable and sustainable. A lot of clients ask for low maintenance – which is possible. Predominantly though it is about how to use the space better – whether it is a terrace or an acre in the country.
The landscape design has an holistic approach and, aside from the plants, incorporates the features such as lighting, water, statues, seating and even cooking, through to the maintenance and management. Everything is one individual part of the puzzle that must join up.
We produce an initial design and visuals which we talk the client through. Any changes are incorporated as necessary before we move to the final design.
A 3D model is often produced -especially if the client is not in the country – to create a walk thru of the space.’
What is the criteria for choosing the planting?
Melina - ‘Hardiness is a good starting point. A client wanting a garden full of camellias in Malta will struggle but most clients are highly realistic about what plants are most appropriate for our climate and soil conditions.’
Eliza – ‘It can be a bit like being an orchestra conductor though: the client brings all the notes to us and we have to rearrange them to make music not noise '
Melina – ‘It also depends on the purpose: screening for pools or from neighbours, children’s play areas, plants for attracting – or repelling - insects. Density of planting is important for this; you will not get a host of butterflies from one plant sadly.’
What are the current fashions in gardens in Malta?
Melina – ‘In line with worldwide trends, sustainability plays a big part in gardens at last. On a smaller scale, Green Walls, or Living Walls, are growing in popularity.’
(For those of you who are not ‘in-the-know’ -green walls’ or vertical gardens are somewhere partially or completely covered with a growing environment such as soil or substrate pockets, an integrated water system and plants/greenery grow on them.)
What are you currently working on or just finishing?
Eliza – ‘we have many projects on the go – we’re currently working on a ‘white garden’ which is very exciting. We have just completed a ‘Zen’ garden on a terrace and, while we had to make adaptations to the requested planting to allow for the Maltese climate, it is successful and we have a very happy client.’
Now that’s cool.
We will be talking to The Garden Studio again in our next edition to showcase the Zen garden and find out how to keep a garden white.
For further information on your new garden design, contact them at:
The Garden Studio
16 Triq Nelson
+356 2766 0444 +356 99609552
Published TEMPLE Magazine 2018
Copyright: Temple Concierge Ltd
Images Copyright: Temple Concierge Ltd and Jean Marc Zerafa