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Le Jardin Secret, Marrakech Medina

Fabric drapes around carved archway, rill through wide path, citrus trees in drift of Stipa tenuissima in mediterranean courtyard, view from inside

The Jardin Secret or Secret Garden of Marrakech is one of the oldest riads in the medina of  Marrakech.  Riad is a Moroccan word for a house with a garden courtyard and in the past Le Jardin Secret was one of the largest riads in the medina, its Islamic garden forming the centrepiece of a palace that belonged to some of the most important families in the city.  It is made up of two separate courtyards:  the Islamic garden and the smaller Exotic garden.

The defining feature of an Islamic garden is the chahar bagh or quadrilateral plan representing the four gardens of the Coran.

The word “paradise” originates from the Old Persian word “pairidaeza” which means an enclosed place.  If you travel to Isfahan or Shiraz today you will find similar walled gardens teeming with flowers and fruit, abundant greenery and water running hither and thither in little channels dividing up the plots, meeting to form a fountain only to run on and on refreshing the air throughout the heat of the summer and delighting the spirit as it gurgles along.  The scent of the flowers, the plants and the orange blossom lingers in the air and indeed it does put you in mind of paradise whether you be in the south of Iran or in Marrakech.

Le Jardin Secret, though restored and replanted recently, contains only trees and shrubs that would have been known to Moroccan gardeners six hundred years ago when the first palace was built on this site. The water (representing the essence of life) flowing through the garden originally came from the Atlas mountains and the remains of the first hydraulic system which distributed the water by gravity throughout the whole riad, are still to be seen today.

The smaller  Exotic garden has plants from all over the world with similar climates to Morocco.  Here too, water has a primary focus but the garden has been planted in a contemporary romantic style perhaps representing a quote from Genesis “Dalla terra Dio ha fatto crescere ogni albero che possa dar piacere alla vista e che dia frutti buoni da mangiare”.

Plants in the Islamic garden

1. Alberi

Ficus carica
Olea europea
Phoenix dactylifera
Punica grantum
Citrus limon
Citrus sinensis
Argania speciosa

2. Arbusti, arrampicanti e odori

Artemisia absinthium
Eschscholzi californica
Iris germanica
Jasminum officinale
Jasminum polyanthum
Lavandula dentata var. Candicans
Lippia citrodora
Myrtus communis
Polianthes tuberosa
Rosa damasceana var. Semperflorens
Rosa moschata nasturana
Rosmarinus officinalis
Salvia aucheri var. canescens
Stipa tenuissima
Tulbaghia violacea
Vitis vinifera

Plants in the Exotic garden

Acacia covenyi
Aechmea distichatha
Agastache aurantiaca
Agave attenuata
Aloa vera
Aloa castanea
Aloe chabaudii
Aloe ferox
Aloe marlothii
Aloe striata
Artemisia arborescens
Alyogyne hakeifolis “Melissa”
Bulbine frutescens
Cestrum nocturnum
Ceiba speciosa
Cistus x purpreus “Alan Fradd”
Cistus x sknbergii
Clivia miniata
Consolea rubesces
Dasylirion acrotrichum
Delonix regia
Dietes grandiflora
Dyckia sp
Eragrostis trichodes
Euphorbia canariensis
Euphorbia dendroides
Euphorbia ingens
Euphorbia tirucalli
Ficus pumila
Furcraea macdougalii
Grevillea “Winpara gem”
Hechtia glomerata
Hymenolepis parviflora
Jacaranda mimosifolia
Kalanchoe thrysifolia
Kalanchoe tomentosa
Kleinia anteuphorbium
Kleinia neriifolia
Limonium perezii
Melianthus major
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Muhlenbergia rigens
Opuntia robusta
Pachypodium lamerei
Pennisetum villosum
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Petrea volubilis
Puya mirabilis
Salvia canariensis
Salvia pomifera
Salvia chamaedryoides
Senecio mandraliscae
Solandra grandiflora
Solanum jasminoides “Alba”
Sonchus gummifer
Westringia brevifolia
Yucca rostrata

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