The bold colors and lush landscape of the Jardin Majorelle
When temperatures begin to warm up, our thoughts naturally turn to the outdoors and we consider how we will spruce up our own backyard. Many look to the world’s famous gardens for inspiration. In that quest, it’s hard to surpass the renown Jardin Majorelle as a bold, colorful muse.
The Jardin Majorelle is located in the heart of the desert in Marrakech, Morocco, but you would never know it. Like many things in Marrakech, the garden is hidden behind a high wall, but once you enter through it’s gates, you are surrounded by a psychedelic lushness. It is a twelve acre oasis.
Despite its desert location, the Jardin Majorelle is incredibly lush
You are cooled by the shade of profusion of palm trees, birds are twittering and there is a soothing sound of water splashing in the many fountains.
The sound of splashing water soothes the soul in the Jardin Majorelle
Winding pathways take you to different pavilions until you arrive at the famous villa, still owned by Yves St. Laurent’s life partner, Pierre Berge.
Romantic winding pathways are laced throughout the Jardin Majorelle
One of several pavilions in the Jardin Majorelle
But you are struck most by the bold primary colors you see everywhere—in particular a cobalt blue, dubbed fittingly “Majorelle blue” (there is even a YSL nail polish in the hue).
Follow this path to the principal villa in the Jardin Majorelle colored in Majorelle blue
French painter, Jacques Majorelle created the garden bearing his name beginning in the 1920s. He is the son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture maker Louis Majorelle. It took him forty years to fully realize his vision for the garden, and while his paintings are largely forgotten, the Jardin Majorelle is considered his creative masterpiece.
In 1931, Jacques Majorelle commissioned the architect Paul Sinoir to build a villa that he would use as his artist studio.
Dubbed Villa Oasis by Pierre Berge and Yves St. Laurent, Berge still lives there when in Marrakech
Overall the villa has Art Deco lines, but it is decorated with the Moorish architectural details that Marrakech is famous for.
Moorish details decorate all of the buildings in the Jardin Majorelle
The villa’s walls are painted Majorelle blue. It is said that Jacques Majorelle perceived this special shade of blue while journeying in the Atlas Mountains, located just outside of Marrakech. The garden is designed around the villa and filled with exotic species and plants that Jacques Majorelle collected on his travels.
Exotic cacti in the Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle has been open to the public since 1947, but after Jacques Majorelle’s death in 1962, it fell into disrepair. Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Berge discovered the garden on their first trip to Marrakech in 1966.
In 1980, when they learned that the Jardin Majorelle was to be lost to real estate development, they purchased the property to prevent its demise. Since that time, the gardens have been restored and many new plants have been added.
“We quickly became very familiar with this garden, and went there every day. It was open to the public yet almost empty. We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature. » … « And when we heard that the garden was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, we did everything we could to stop that project from happening. This is how we eventually became owners of the garden and of the villa. And we have brought life back to the garden through the years.”
Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent, “Une passion marocaine”
Éditions de la Martinière, 2010
After Yves St. Laurent’s death in 2008, Pierre Berge donated the garden to the Foundation Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent, although he continues to live in the villa. Yves St. Laurent’s ashes were scattered in the garden, and a memorial to him was erected there.
St. Laurent often said that the gardens provided him with an unlimited source of inspiration, and that he regularly dreamt of its colors.
Glorious hot pink bougainvillea in the Jardin Majorelle
How can you bring the Jardin Majorelle home?
Perhaps by painting your containers in the bold shades of blue and yellow seen throughout the garden, and planting them with flowers in hot pink shades similar to the color of the bougainvillea there.
Container gardening plays an important role in the Jardin Majorelle landscape.
Another idea is to mimic the cacti in the garden on a small scale by planting succulents—easy maintenance too. Finally don’t forget set the mood with some Moroccan style lanterns for evening atmosphere.
Like Yves St. Laurent, soon you will dreaming of the bold hues of Matisse paintings in you own private oasis.
Photo credits: First image from Travel & Leisure. http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/tls-definitive-guide-to-marrakesh
Second image from Hooked on Traveling http://hookedoneverything.com/marrakech-moroccos-red-city/
All other images by Lynn Byrne.