Courtyard Gardens in Morocco

With the current weather as it is I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to just hide indoors and hope and hope for some sunshiny days to spend out in the garden.

You may just want to be out in the garden in shorts and t-shirts – but find yourself still reverting back to those trousers and jumpers. Although sometimes there can be nothing nicer than wearing a really good pair of corduroy trousers and still getting down to some heavy duty Spring time work in the garden, all wrapped up and cosy.

Lands’ End have some great choices for this kind of garden wear and with a lifetime guarantee on all their clothing this can last from Season to season. You just don’t know whether we’re going to get that Indian Summer this year – so it’s best to be prepared.

If you are feeling a need for heat and a getaway to spend some time out in a garden, where better to go for inspiration and pleasure than a Moroccan courtyard garden?

Sheltered from the outside world and its endless heat and activity, Moroccan courtyard gardens are inner sanctuaries at the heart of residential houses and palaces. They are personal spaces, designed with privacy for the family, and for women, in mind. These riads – houses with courtyard gardens – are typically inwardly focused, with windows looking out onto the beautifully planted and geometrically aligned central spaces. 

Courtyard gardens also provide protection from the sun and heat of the Moroccan climate. They are gentle places where shade from the buildings combines with water features that encourage cool air circulation. Courtyard gardens typically have a central fountain, often springing from a surrounding of glazed tiles adorned with geometric mosaics. Some may have small pools, with water lilies (Nymphaceae) or lotuses (Nelumbo).

There are many elements that come together to make up a Moroccan garden, and one of the most readily observable is its emphasis on geometry. The distinctive geometrical forms of Islamic style have their roots in the idea of representation of order and the natural world. In this way, the square may represent the four elements, and flowing curves may represent plant forms. Taken together, the various patterns express creation, infinity and the perfection of the spiritual world.

When it comes to colour, Moroccan courtyard gardens often combine lush, vibrant colours with softer, more tranquil shades. The walls of the riad are typically plastered and often painted white or pale terracotta. Mosaic tiling along paths and around fountains or other features may be simple in white and black, or it may incorporate many brighter colours such as red, yellow and green. There may be accessories including lanterns, low mosaic tables and jewel embroidered soft furnishings. This all forms a backdrop for the verdant greens of trees, shrubs and other flowering plants.

Citrus trees are an integral part of the Moroccan courtyard garden. The graceful, refined forms of lemon (Citrus limon), lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and orange (Citrus sinensis) trees in elegant containers combine with their delicate white blossoms and the sunshine colours of fruit. There are many other citrus varieties which may be included in a courtyard garden, including mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and many hybrids and cultivars.

The theme of abundance is typically continued with fragrant climbers, such as delicate white jasmine (Jasminum) or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), or glorious pink Bougainvillea, that wind their way enchantingly around pillars and along walls. There may also be evergreen trees such as cypress (Cupressas) and bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) to add contrast and rich, sweet scents. Other gardens may have palms, such as Washingtonia and Phoenix.

Aromatic Mediterranean herbs such as ArtemisiaSantolina and Moroccan sea holly (Eryngium variifolium) are frequent additions, with their soft, silvery greens and greys. Mint (Mentha) and basil (Ocimum) are both popular herbal teas in Morocco and often found in gardens. Blue delphiniums and pink geraniums add splashes of colour.

Staying in a riad is a great way to experience the beauty and simplicity of the Moroccan courtyard, while museums such as the
Musée de l’Art in Marrakech and the Musée Dar Batha in Fez often have beautiful examples of this type of garden. Though not a courtyard garden, the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is also a wonderful place to gain an insight into Moroccan style, use of colour and typical plants, from the vibrant blue square fountain and water lily pool to the pale terracotta walls at the entrance and palm fronded walkways. 

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