The gardener’s bucket list
MAJORELLE GARDEN in Marrakech, Morocco
Majorelle Garden in Morocco
The vibrant, bustling city of Marrakech is home to Majorelle Garden, a work of art created by a painter and later restored by an iconic fashion designer
Morocco, located in North Africa where Arabian, Berber and European cultures meld, is a mecca for artists and musicians – and garden lovers! While the buzz of daily life is alluring, I love the place most for its secret nooks where you find murmuring fountains and mosaic tiles.
Just a short walk away from the jostling crowds in the souks (bazaars) of Marrakech is a must-see sanctuary that has had visitors under its spell for decades. Jardin Majorelle, designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle nearly 100 years ago, is a horticultural haven of almost half a hectare. It is renowned for its very exotic plantings and vibrant colours, predominantly yellow and blue.
Majorelle approached the landscape with the same artistic flair as his paintings. The garden was considered one of his most dazzling works, with him adding plants from his travels through five continents over 40 years or so. A blue cubist villa, built in the 1930s, was used as his studio space until shortly before his death in 1962.
Decades later, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé rescued Jardin Majorelle, which had fallen into decay and was under threat from a hotel project. They restored the garden along the lines of Majorelle’s vision.
Jardin Majorelle is entered through a courtyard featuring a serene blue and green, Moorish-tiled pool surrounded by colourful pots. A decorative wall is framed by towering palms and stands of bamboo. From here, you wend your way along boardwalks and pathways, taking in carefully choreographed collections of cacti and sculpture.
Bold colours on the pots and structures throughout the garden remain the artist’s signature. The ultramarine-cobalt blue that he’d first noticed in tiles around Marrakech has been used extensively, and this colour is now known as Majorelle Blue.
NEED TO KNOW
Majorelle Garden is open every day of the year. Opening times vary slightly in different months and during Ramadan. Entry to the garden and museum is separate; the garden is 70Dhs (about
A$10) and the museum is 30Dhs
(about A$5). As the garden is popular, it’s best to visit early in the day or wait until late afternoon. If you go with a tour group, you may not need to queue to enter. Give yourself plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere. Sit awhile or visit the cafe.
Be sure to include a walk through the villa, now home to Majorelle’s paintings and the Berber Museum, which displays artefacts from the collections of Saint Laurent and Bergé. In the studio is an Islamic Art Museum with North African textiles from Saint Laurent’s personal collection, and Musée Yves Saint Laurent recently opened on the site as a tribute to the designer’s legacy in haute couture.
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN The colour Majorelle Blue is synonymous with the garden and was patented by the owner, painter Jacques Majorelle; there are about 30 members of the cactus family in the garden and plants from five continents; the entrance fountain is by US decorator Bill Willis.
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE Bamboo lines both sides of an irrigation canal that runs between a pavilion and the building that was Majorelle’s studio; an arbor festooned with bougainvillea; boldly painted pots are a signature style in Majorelle Garden.