Islamic and Moroccan Garden Guide
Transport yourself to the East, to a land of diverse, rich cultures, vibrant colours, exotic spices and heavenly scents. A magical Islamic garden based on the Four Rivers of Paradise. In a busy world, it has become natural to love and revere nature’s vegetation, both for its physical benefits and as a sign of the mysterious power that guides the universe. There is a literal image of water flowing under the pathways in order to irrigate the flowerbeds. There is a more profound level of evocation when nurturing the ‘garden within’ by the ever-flowing waters of the spirit which purifies the soul. This is a place where the beauty and fragrance of the colours and plants permeate your inner spirit. A garden of rest and contemplation – a place of eternal bliss.
This is what a traditional Islamic garden is essentially about – an earthly analogy for life in Paradise which is promised to believers. Some famous examples which have inspired many gardeners are The Alhambra and Generalife in Spain, and of course, the Taj Mahal in India.
What you need
The main theme of a traditional Islamic garden is water and shade. It is the intent of the garden to provide a place of respite from the hot and scorched world. Most Islamic gardens contain multiple water pathways that lead to a fountain or system of fountains. These waterways are surrounded by walkways that could be used for reflective meandering or prayerful walks along the water’s edge.
The colours most frequently found in Islamic, Arabic, or Persian inspired garden design are whites, dusky pinks/terracotta, rich blues, golds (occasionally in small patterns) and rich reds. There is not a great deal of reliance on delicate, pastel colours. Architectural elements are also important, allowing enjoyment of the garden from above while also affording shade. Consider painting wall panels or arches to match the colours just described, or install coloured pots to reflect the colour theme.
How to create your garden of tranquility
Arrange flowerbeds in the form of a cross, reminiscent of the Four Rivers of Paradise, sometimes below the level of the paths so that the vegetation can be fully appreciated by the senses. The plants must be aromatic and flowering and freely but wisely combined with fruiting plants. Many Islamic gardens feature hedges or bushes trimmed into fantasy shapes. Myrtle or other scented hedges, rows of date palms for the larger garden and dwarf desert-type palms for the smaller ones can be used. Standardised citrus trees make great features (is there actually any garden style that can’t incorporate a lemon tree?). Bay trees and pomegranate bushes in pots, along with roses, lavender, pelargoniums and rosemary in terracotta add fragrance, colour and beauty to the garden. You can add desert plants such as agave or upright yuccas as features.
Another design style that has fascinated many people is from Morocco. With a romantic notion of cloistered courtyards where you can cool off after coming out of the desert. Morocco is all about outdoor living. The weather is beautiful year round and Moroccans know to make the most of it. Beds in the garden are not uncommon and can be found in the swankier generation of new guest houses. Traditional Moroccan homes open inwards and have courtyards at their heart. This is where you will find elaborate tile work, fountains and even trees.
It’s vibrant, lush and exotic. Romance and mystery mingle with intense detail and deep colours to create an outdoor living space perfect for hot, Mediterranean afternoons. Arabian-style outdoor furniture, isolated paths accented with rich coloured mosaics, and calming evergreens sprinkled between rows of citrus trees are the defining characteristics of the unique look of a Moroccan garden. One distinct landscaping feature of the typical Moroccan garden is the use of miniature hedges that divide different sections of the garden which create small garden plots featuring different types of plants and flowers. Accented with smooth pebble stones, terracotta pots and patches of sand, these mini-oases break up the space, bringing interest to the area.
Why not consider decorating your patio or courtyard area with a sunken seating space covered with Moroccan tiles and triangular benches. This is the perfect way to enjoy the garden and relax in a comfortable, outdoor setting.
Hard landscaping features include mosaic tile pathways, elegant water fountains with a Moorish flair like mosaic tile wall fountains (because of the heat, water features are a very important component) and colourful flowers and lush plants reminiscent of Arabian palaces. Imagine as you enter the garden - you notice the usage of mosaic or tiles that dominates the landscape of the garden. Complete your layout design with serene colours like water blue and green foliage and enhance the originality of the garden design with gold, yellow, and silver emulating the surrounding desert. Besides inviting the feeling of calm and serene, the effect of colours on the floor and the featured wall interacts with nature and provides an amazing atmosphere. Use small terracotta tiles to form the backdrop and add deeper interest in the application of mosaic rich multi-coloured tesserae consisting of all the colours under the sun.
The sweet fragrance of roses and lavender and the soft glow of candles as the sun goes down all add to the ambiance of this intriguing style of landscape design. If you’re after a really authentic look, richly coloured thick rugs and Moroccan lights will do the trick.
Plants and Flowers for the Moroccan Garden
Ideal plants for this style are citrus trees, sweet peas, lavender, pink, purple and white rose bushes, poppies, Moroccan sea holly, evergreen climber plants (like Trachelospermum), white geraniums, blue delphiniums, santolina and artemesia.
Give yourself over to the exotic and mysterious appeal of the Orient — with their vibrant colours and ebullient propensity to always go for the max, a garden of Paradise may be just what you need to complete your internal getaway.