After reading an article in Cereal Magazine about an oasis hidden in the middle of Marrakech, I had to search it out when I visited the Red City in April this year. And Jardin Majorelle was just that; a secluded piece of paradise amid the blaring car horns and burning heat of the medina. From the moment I stepped through the arched entrance, all the sounds and smells of the streets outside evaporated up into the leafy canopy above. The trickle of water and trills and twitters of birds transported me far away from the hot hubbub of the square, and I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling between the cacti and bougainvillea, relishing in the cool quietude.
The modish influences are evident everywhere. The assorted shapes of cacti plants and vibrant bursts of colours are like sketches from a carnet de mode, from the pop of fuchsia and splash of yellow to the ever-present and perennial shade of blue that dominates Saint Laurent’s catwalks today: le Bleu Majorelle. But the world-renowned fashion designer was not the originator behind this vogue colour. The intense shade of blue originates from the French artist Jacques Majorelle, who trademarked the name in 1924 after drenching his largest artwork in it; the Jardin Majorelle.
“This garden is a momentous task, to which I give myself entirely. It will take my last years from me and I will fall, exhausted, under its branches, after having given it all my love.” Majorelle did not fall short of this promise, and after forty years of adding exotic plants from all over the world to his precious garden, he was forced to sell what remained. The embodiment of his artwork fell into neglect, until designer duo Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé saved it from the hands of real estate agents and becoming a hotel complex in 1980. The new owners restored the garden back to its beautiful self, adding 165 new plant species and an irrigation system that cares for each and every plant’s individual needs.
The garden is well worth an afternoon’s wander, if not for the dizzying array of plants and colours but for the inspiring story behind it.