Architectural botany: Contemporanium’s visionary gardens

Mark Whiting at the intersection of artistic inspiration and horticultural expertise

Behind the beautiful raised flowerbeds, lush leafy walls and creative landscapes of Contemporanium is English designer Mark Whiting. He moved from London to Mallorca after studying at the Inchbald School of Design. While a botanist at heart, Whiting has a strong architectural style and focuses on creating gardens that are low maintenance and low water consumption.

He is an expert in the hard details of gardening such as grounding paths, drainage systems, and wall construction. In designing a garden, Whiting believes the planning of the architectural landscape is as important, if not more so, than the plants. And lighting is integral; he uses low LED lighting to illuminate pathways through the garden for night wandering.

His collaboration with clients begins by giving them a questionnaire to get a feel for how they will use the garden, technical aspects of the property, and which artists and architects they admire. “It tells me a lot about what kind of garden they will want.”

A modern farm inspired by Mondrian

For a British client, a gentleman farmer who loved the painter Mondrian, Whiting used the artist’s minimalist ‘jazz’ paintings as inspiration for a newly built 20,000-square-metre estate. The Modern Farm has rows of grape vines crossed by bands of olive trees, and a grid of citrus trees surrounded by fields of wheat. The garden surrounding the house is linear and precise, planted to echo the dimensions of the building with long raised rectangular beds. Clipped fragrant rosemary hedges frame lemon trees, while a verdant wall of Parthenocissus resonates with the vast wheat fields that go from vibrant green to gold as the seasons change.