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Balsam Fir Planting – Learn About Balsam Fir Tree Care
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How to create the perfect Moroccan Garden
Moroccan delights: achieve a laid-back look and feel with Matt Keightley Credit: Getty
I ’ve been lucky enough to visit Morocco and stay in a riad. The term actually means “garden” but is used to describe a townhouse built round a central courtyard garden: an oasis of calm where you can get away from the hustle of city life
One of the things I love about Moroccan courtyard gardens is that, as well as providing sanctuary, the central position means you can enjoy the garden wherever you are in your house.
It is wonderful to have a 360-degree view – to be one or two storeys up and see right into the crown of a palm or a particularly beautiful plant. That is because, as well as planning how the garden will look from ground level, Moroccans also consider how you look into the space from around and above. It is not an aspect we usually get here in the UK.
Planning your Moroccan garden
It is not necessary to have a courtyard to conjure up a sense of Moroccan calm. Anyone with any size of garden can achieve the same laid-back look and feel.
The trick is to imagine how the garden will look from different vantage points inside your house. Then, rather than trying to replicate what you might have seen on holiday, try taking Moroccan ideas about calm, shade, perfume, beauty and pleasure and use them to create a Moroccan-inspired garden – UK-style.
Getting the look
Traditionally, enclosed courtyard gardens are quite formal and symmetrical in layout with immaculate container planting. Furniture is placed either under a large tree or in dappled shade on terraces set around the perimeter of the garden – the idea being that you have a good view into the garden while being sheltered from the sun.
Otherwise, there are no hard and fast rules about the style of the seating. Moroccans are fond of afternoon tea using wrought-iron tables and chairs kept cool in the shade. But more relaxed, sofa-style seating also works very well and has the advantage of remaining cool and providing comfort if you plan to spend a lot of time in your garden.
There are also lots of Moroccan-style accessories you can buy to complete the look, such as lanterns and brightly coloured cushions and throws. Vibrantly coloured pots in contrasting colours are typical, along with patterned tiles and maybe painted walls.
Add a water feature
Water is important in Moroccan culture and you will usually find a beautifully ornate fountain at the centre of the garden. It provides a focus and also, because water reflects the sky, creates a sense of space while also making a soothing sound.
The same rippling effect can be created by any number of water features available in the UK. Pathways are also important. They lead you through the outdoor space and create a link between the central fountain area and the rest of the house and garden.
If you are wondering what to plant in your Moroccan-style garden, take a look at Jardin Majorelle, a popular garden in Marrakech that was restored by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner.
I particularly love the way the designer has used cacti to give structure to the space. You can do the same here with cacti planted in containers that you bring indoors during the winter months.
And there is a whole range of evergreen, spiky architectural plants that you can find at any garden centre in the UK, such as phormiums, cordylines and agaves.
They will give you year-round interest and texture and form that you can underplant with grasses such as Stipa tenuissima or some of the Carex varieties. Succulents are a low-maintenance additions while kniphofias – red-hot pokers – will bring a flash of colour. Then I’d go for some of the more brightly coloured geums as they work really well.
A fig tree will add a Moroccan touch if you are lucky enough to have a south-facing wall. Roses are good for their scent and you may also want to think about planting some mint for a truly Moroccan style cup of tea.
Products to give a Moroccan feel
Verve Mint Seeds, Herb Mix, £1.38
Adds flavour to potatoes and peas and is great for headaches and improving concentration.
Sofia 4 Seater Dining Set, £228
The beautifully unique, hand finished mosaic top of the Sofia table adds a touch of elegance to your garden. This charming, Mediterranean inspired collection is a great way to relax in your outdoor space this summer.