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Nicknamed ‘the rose among the palms’, the thousand-year-old city of Marrakesh in western Morocco is characterised by its pink-coloured pisé architecture and its deeply rooted tradition for gardens and green spaces. The majority of historic sites are inextricable from their gardens – or indeed are historic green spaces: the huge royal orchard pleasure-gardens of the Agdal were described by Monty Don as ‘of international cultural importance on a par with Versailles or Villa d’Este’. Scores of traditional riads and hotels like the Mamounia, created by the French in 1923 on the site of an eighteenth-century royal residence, offer splendid gardens to the visitor. Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle garden is an icon of modern garden design.
The first book to be published on this fascinating subject, Gardens of Marrakesh champions the city’s relevance today in a world of water scarcity and urban development and explores its green heritage, considering some twenty gardens both from an historic and cultural perspective.
Angelica Gray is a writer and garden designer with clients in France and London. In 2007 her parents moved to a house in the Medina in Marrakesh where she first came into contact with the gardens of the city. Through her father, the portrait painter Norman Douglas Hutchinson, known for his portraits of the British royal family, she has been able to access important contacts in the city, including Abderrazzak Benchaabane, who restored the planting of the Majorelle Gardens for Yves Saint Laurent, and many other passionate garden owners.
Alessio Mei is an Italian photographer specialising in architecture, gardens and interiors. Fascinated by landscape and nature, he has travelled widely beyond his native Tuscany and has recently moved to Marrakesh.
"Why has no-one devoted a book to this wonderful subject before? [...] We are lucky to have Angelica Gray to introduce us to her selection of 20 extraordinary gardens in Marrakesh, because she writes with the authority of a local, sets the gardens in their cultural context and invites us to engage with the issues threatening their survival [...] her description [...] makes you long to jump on a plane to Marrakesh. If you do her book couldn't be bettered as a companion."
– The World of Interiors
"We're sighing over the turquoise-tiled courtyards and swishing palms in Gardens of Marrakesh, a photography book that has us ready to pick up a trowel – or at least book a flight."
– Sunday Times Travel Magazine