Gardening

A Moroccan Courtyard Garden

Featured in How to Create Your Dream Garden in Dallas

A blend of Moorish, Islamic, and French influences, Moroccan gardens typically feature three key things: flowing water, shade, and exuberant foliage. “From an architectural standpoint, a courtyard garden is commonly seen in Moroccan gardens, as it serves as a calm, serene retreat from the noise and activity outside,” says Mary Ellen Cowan of Mesa Design Group. “We are seeing that this design approach to homes, with the layout of interior spaces around an exterior courtyard, has become en vogue again in Dallas, such as it was back in the 1950s.”  Working in hardscape materials, including water features, plaster walls, cut-stone detailing, and colorful tiles, is also key. And you need color—lots of color: “Vibrant primary colors are used, with blue being the major primary color,” Cowan says. “The color is actually called ‘Majorelle blue,’ after the painter Jacques Majorelle, who created Jardin Majorelle in Morocco.”

from left: Blue elephant pot, $950/Mecox; blue watering can, $30/Crate & Barrel; large terracotta urn, $800/Pittet Architecturals; sunken vase, $233/Jacksons Home & Garden; glazed bowl, $101/Jacksons Home & Garden; 19th-century french vessel, $600/Pittet Architecturals
Chris Plavidal

 

To create your own Moroccan garden in Dallas, Cowan recommends the following plants:

 

Century plant (Agave Americana)
With thick, blue-green leaves that can grow five feet tall, this plant loves sun and is drought tolerant.

Aralia (Fatsia japonica)
The aralia’s large tropical leaves add a lush look to a Moroccan garden.

Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Cast-iron plants feature dark green, wide elongated foliage and are ideal for low mass plantings.

Flowering jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
This vine is prized for its fragrant, white flowers. The scent will fill your garden through the month of May.

Leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum)
An interesting shade plant with large, round, glossy green leaves. It blooms in the wintertime and adds a lush, unique look.

Dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor)
This affords the look of a palm (popular in Moroccan gardens) and has a great spiky texture. It requires virtually no maintenance and does very well in our area.

Dave’s Take

Dave Forehand, vice president of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum, shares his reflections.

According to Forehand, the look and feel of a Middle Eastern garden can be achieved with several components. “Geometric pools of water or long runnels of water lined with symmetrical plantings or multiple, matching glazed containers can help achieve that eastern garden feel,” Forehand says. “If you don’t have pools of water, you can use colored stones in the same geometric shapes to give the illusion of water.”

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