Posts Tagged ‘Batha Garden’

The Medina Gardens of Fes, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Jnan Sbil (Formerly Bou Jeloud) gardens entrance

The Medina Gardens of Fes make for the perfect Fes Tour to compliment this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ancient Mosques, Monuments and Zaouias. The Bab Bou Jeloud is the main entry point to Fes el Bali. This area divided the cities of Fes Jedid and Fes el Bali and was developed into three palace gardens by Sultan Moulay Hassan in the 19th Century. These were the gardens of Dar Batha,Bou Jeloud and  Dar Beida. The Jnan Sbil gardens (formerly the Bou Jeloud gardens) on the north-western edge of the medina has palms, eucalyptus, weeping willows, citrus trees and bamboo. The park was opened to the public by Moulay Hassan in the 19th century. Jnane Sbil encompasses 7.5 hectares and is located in the heart of city. It is one of the oldest gardens in Fes. Because of its historical importance, great care was taken to restore the Jnan Sbil garden to its original design and after four years of detailed restoration and renovation of the heirloom plants, the hydraulic systems and the famous waterwheel, the project was completed and re-opened in June 2010.

The Oued Fes river and the Oued Jawahir (river of pearls) flowed through the garden and a broken down water wheel remains as a reminder of how the medieval city was powered by water wheels which provided craftsmen and their workshops with power. On the western edge near Bab Makina, the Nouria Cafe is still open and is a very pleasant place for tea or lunch.

Andalusian Style Garden, Batha Museum

Dar Batha ,which is now the Museum of the Arts and Traditions of Fes, is the only one of these palace gardens open to the public. It is an Andalucian garden which boasts a three-hundred year old Quercus Rotundifolia, Washington Fifera, Cycas Revolta and Moroccan fountains. The Batha Garden is a serene escape from the bustling medina in Fes. It serves as a location for the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music each June.Andalusian gardens are based on the charbagh, the four-part garden with water ways and fountains.

Shaded with citrus trees and perfumed with orange blossom, red roses and sweet-scented jasmine, Islamic gardens were designed for tranquillity, reflection and relaxation in mind, earthly paradises to inspire a spiritual experience and inner peace.

In the arabo-andalousian culture the garden is a major element of  architectural balance and of lifestyle. Fes was one the first cities in the world to built a water distribution network which enabled the city to develop the art of gardening. The city was founded following the muslim exodus from Spain in 1492 following the Reconquista and the exiles from Andalousia brought with them the artistic creativity culture and vision of Moorish Spain which has distinguished Fes ever since.

Palais Jamai Hotel Garden

The Palais Jamai which is Fes’s premier five star hotel and also a former palace has a superb  Andalusian garden once the property of the Grand Vizier of Sultan Hassan, Haj Amaati Jamai. The  garden is oldest example of Andalusian style in Fes with Al Hambra Classical Axial lines.

Robert Johnstone, has created a beautiful garden in the ruin at Riad Idrissy which  can be viewed daily from noon until 8pm. Johnstone describes it as “half garden, half allotment.” In it he grows gardenias, a jacaranda, papyrus, and a mix of edibles that are used in the riad’s kitchen, such as verbena, mint, chillies, sorrel, rosemary, parsley and tomatoes.

Jardin des Biehn is based on traditional Islamic forms, with water channels intersecting the garden, and fountains at one end. It was formerly the summer palace of a pasha who housed his concubines and slaves there. Now a boutique hotel, the rooms all open onto the lovely garden, which features roses, irises, large trees and a variety of edible herbs.

Fes et Gestes is a colonial house, which is now a maison d’hote. It has four equal garden beds, with a grand fountain in the centre.

Palais Mokri, Fes

The El Mokri Palace is located on the Southern of the old Medina on a hill – the hill of springs (El Ayoun), on the edge of the small valley of Wadi Fes and above the south gate, Bab Did.Built in around 1906 by Si Tayeb El Mokri, son of the king’s grand vizier the grand palace has a large garden with terraces and fountains. Ryad Mokri also has a a fine and well tended garden.

For more information about a Fes Tour or a Garden Tour of Fes 

For More Information About Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate
Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Carey Duncan, Morocco’s Leading Landscape Architect & Garden Designer, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Carey Duncan, Landscape Architect & Garden Designer

Jeanette Lowdon, Garden Enthusiast covers Carey Duncan’s work across Morocco’s private and public green spaces. Lowdon recently had the opportunity to interview the well known Landscape Architect, Carey Duncan, at Cafe La Poste in Marrakech. Sitting on the colonial style porch savoring a gourmet lunch, Duncan chatted about her life in Morocco and her honorable achievements within the development, restoration and garden design field in Morocco.

Carey Duncan, a South African native, was first struck by Landscape Architecture while attending school in Johannesburg with its beautiful gardens bordered by a wild urban nature reserve. Her father also fueled her passion as she watched him create a paradise out of an old rubbish dump in the garden of the house he built and lived in for 45 years.

This inspiration led her to receive her bachelors degree in Town and Regional Planning in South Africa before attending Cornell University in the United States to get a double masters in City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture.

While in University Duncan met her future husband, a Moroccan studying on a grant from USAID and the government of Morocco. After graduation she went back to South Africa for two years and worked as a private consultant in the fields of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. She later married and joined her new husband in Morocco.

Tresco Abbey Gardens Scilly, England

In 1992, after arriving in Morocco Duncan discovered that locals were not familiar with the field of Landscape Architecture. Concerned about the possibility of Carey being able to work in her chosen field, her sister came to Morocco with a British Homes and Gardens magazine in hand. Inside the magazine was an announcement for an international competition to design a Mediterranean garden in the Tresco Abbey Botanic Gardens on the Isles of Scilly, England. It was the first major intervention in the garden in 100 years. Duncan came up with a design which she remembers thinking, “it’s not earth shattering, but it works.” Following her instinct, she created it and won first prize. Her confidence was strengthened which encouraged her to continue her work which resulted in her winning contracts for  projects in Morocco.

Carey has had a few selective favorite projects that she considers key to her career. Most notably is the rehabilitation of the mineral spring esplanade in Sidi Harazem, which was her first major public project. Renovating the gardens of Palais Marshan and designing the Esplanade of the Presidential Palace in Nouakchott and later the gardens of the Residence, were also challenges that she enjoyed. This set her up to work on the Jardins Exotiques in Bouknadel, a project that took several years of intensive on site work. Since then, she has worked on a variety of restoration projects, in Fes, Rabat and Oujda, often with the collaboration of architect, Fadel Guerraoui. Carey’s top project on her list is an open space network in the small town of Oued Zem near Khouribga.

Andalusian Garden, Sidi Bouknadel Rabat

One of the larger and more well known projects Duncan worked on was the Rehabilitation Project of the Exotic Gardens, Sidi Bouknadel for the Foundation Mohamed VI set up for Environmental Protection of Morocco’s heritage sites.

The Exotic Gardens Sidi Bouknadal in Sale, is set on a 18 acre plot of land originally bought by Marcel Francois in the 1940s. For over 4 years Duncan worked to restore the garden to its former glory as in the days of its creator, Marcel François. The gardens were completely run down, bridges disappeared, eroding paths and the incredible plants and trees had received no maintenance for decades. The bridges, paths, walls, monticules had to be entirely redone”, says Duncan. With very little information or photos, Duncan and her colleagues relied on descriptions from the old gardeners who were still on the site and on interpretation of some of the ruins that were left. Most of the plants were original and were restored with care. Adapting to modern technology and contemporary requirements, the project began.

Duncan recalls, Marcel François used to design decorations for aquariums. You can sense this as you walk through the garden, where he takes you down into a subsurface cave, gliding past monticules that look like termite mounds, and then up into the tree tops on swinging bridges – the visitor experiences several strata just as fish does in an aquarium.”

Another restoration project Duncan worked on was the The Jardin D’essais in Rabat originally laid out by JN Forestier in 1924. The ancient garden of Colonial Rabat is one of the green spaces that structure the city of Rabat as laid out by Prost. “It was initially a garden to test new varieties of fruit trees and how imported ones could be acclimatised” says Duncan. Organized along a central perspective with a series of rectangular gardens grafted onto either side of the central path, a series of themes are presented, based on the original trials that were conducted by INRA at the time.

Batha Garden, Fes

The famous Dar Batha in Fez was restored by Duncan in 2005 as part of a tourist trail in the heart of the Fez old Medina. Duncan worked with Cotecno and Architect Raffael Gorjux from Italy recreating the Andalusian Garden while keeping existing large trees, but replanting the undergrowth which was either bare or overtaken by weeds, and revitalizing the existing planting. “It was particularly difficult as the current legislation for preserving historic monuments does not take into account the changing nature of gardens over time and the requirement to prune, shape and weed. So a committee had to convene almost every time we needed to pull out a weed!” says Duncan.

Duncan has collaborated with a number of Landscape Architects from several different countries on various projects, in order to bring local knowledge and expertise to hand. After 20 years here she claims, “I am considered a local!”  Duncan says, “The most interesting of these partnerships was with Hart Howerton from San Francisco. It was a very exciting and difficult project given the complicated topography and the difficulties surrounding the preservation of the mythic argan trees on the site.”

When asked about how has she educated the nurserymen in plant choices Duncan says “The nursery industry in Morocco has developed a lot in the last 20 years, but there is still a long way to go. It is ironic that a lot of indigenous plant species are not available in cultivation for landscape use. After slowly hammering away at growers, and with the growth of demand, we are starting to see local species being cultivated for sale as landscape plants.”

When asked what does she see as the future for Landscape Architects in Morocco hold, Cary’s face lit  up with excitement. Duncan stated “About a year ago, the few Landscape Architects that there are in Morocco formed a professional association: “L’Association des Architectes-paysagistes du Maroc” (AAPM).

As the Secretary General for the AAPM Duncan states “We would ideally like to have our profession given recognition and a scale of fees agreed upon and made known to the general public.  We need to promote our profession which is not officially recognized in Morocco”. Presently, they have made great strides in their goal by gaining membership in the IFLA – the International Federation of Landscape Architects. Duncan spoke with passion saying “We do want to strive for the separation of client – designer – and contractor to ensure quality landscapes for our clients, but for the country in general as well.”

The “local” as she is now known in Morocco has given so much of herself in the 20 years that she has been working in Morocco as a Landscape Architect. She is now fully booked each week as she travels to a different city nearly every day.

Morocco is very lucky to have this talented woman at the helm of this business. She is a role model for all students of Landscape Architecture and City and Regional Planning. Anyone would be lucky to be graced by her wealth of knowledge and expertise in this field.

For more information about Garden Designers in Morocco or Gardens of Morocco Tour 

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities,Seaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of Morocco,Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best ofMarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.