For the artist Jacques Majorelle, his Marrakesh garden was more than an escape, it was an obsession. “This garden is a momentous task, to which I give myself entirely,” he said. “It will take my last years from me and I will fall, exhausted, under its branches, after having given it all my love.”
Over the course of 40 years, Majorelle travelled the world to collect plants of varying textures and colors — cacti, bamboo, palms, cypress, weeping willows — which he then arranged as if he were composing a painting. Bringing it all together was “Majorelle blue,” an intense, saturated cobalt that vividly accentuated the green of his plants against the backdrop of the Ochre City.
After Majorelle’s death (alas, in his native France, not his beloved garden), the Jardin Majorelle fell into disrepair until fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé fell in love with it on their first visit to Marrakesh in 1966. The couple visited every day, and eventually purchased the property and launched a long, loving restoration in 1980.
Take a look inside the garden and see how several distinct elements make it unique and colorful. You may just find the inspiration to create your own outdoor space born from maximalist design.
Bold Planters and Plants
The heart of any garden is gorgeous plantscapes. At the Jardin Majorelle, paths are lined with brightly colored yellow and cobalt pots against which the graphic leaves and branches of the plants really stand out. And if some of the more exotic plants don’t tend to thrive in your area? Peppering in silk succulents among the real greens adds visual appeal and can be your little secret.
Today, the Jardin Majorelle is part of a villa complex that includes the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh, the Berber Museum and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, which opened in fall 2017. The lush beauty of the garden attracts more than 700,000 annual visitors — all, like the artist and the legendary fashion designer, drawn to its technicolor mix of African, Art Deco, and botanical charms.
Unique Accent Pieces
In gardens, as in fashion, it’s always about the accessories. Strategically placed mirrors, screens, and draperies can create “rooms” and make you feel that you’re inside a secret, walled paradise — far away from the clamor of everyday life.
Outdoor Pillows, Poufs and Ottomans
It may actually be a rule that any Moroccan-inspired space has got to have a scattering of cushions, but when that space is a relaxing garden, more definitely equals more. Since they’re light and easy to move, mixing in a few from indoors adds a touch of formality that would most certainly please Mssrs. Majorelle and Saint Laurent.
Creating little furniture moments around the most appealing places in your garden gives you the chance to truly appreciate every inch of the space, even as seasons changes and plants grow and mature.
The Jardin Majorelle has been compared to Eden, but you can get the look without falling from grace — or artistic exhaustion —with some key pieces.
Great lighting can turn a night in the garden into an enchanted evening. Illuminating tables and garden paths with Moroccan-style lanterns and candles creates a universally flattering, flickering glow, suitable for the most magical Arabian nights.
Jenna Gabrial Gallagher is the founder of The Beaspora, which celebrates people who put the Midwest on the map with world-class talent, experience, and ideas. She also writes about style, entertaining, travel, a little pop culture, and adventures with her three funny little girls.