The Majorelle Garden is a 12-acre botanical garden and artist’s landscape garden in Marrakech, Morocco.
It was designed by expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s during the colonial period when Morocco was a protectorate of France. Though Majorelle’s watercolors are largely forgotten today, the gardens he created are his creative masterpieces. The special shade of cobalt blue, which he used extensively in his garden and its buildings is named after him — Majorelle Blue.
Today, the villa-studio is a museum, which is surrounded by collections of cacti, exotic plants and trees that are landscaped to emphasize each one’s unique beauty.
The garden’s pools, streams and fountains create a haven of serenity. The delicate sound of trickling water accompanies the song of the bulbul in the gardens and the chirping of numerous other bird species who have found their Eden there: blackbirds, house sparrows, robins, blue tits, great tits, warblers, grey wagtails and turtledoves.
Before entering the garden itself, the visitor is greeted by an enclosed space with a square fountain. Designed by American decorator Bill Willis, the colorful zelliges (terracotta tile work) that decorate the fountain show his passion for Moroccan artisanal techniques.
The garden has been open to the public since 1947, and since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge.
Majorelle was especially interested in cacti. Out of respect for this passion, Saint Laurent and Bergé continue to expand the collection, which today includes about 30 members of the cactus family, some of which have been imported from the southwest regions of the U.S.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2015.