Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2017

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All of a sudden spring has sprung and there are hundreds of blooms to enjoy – not least Narcissus ‘Cragford’, above.  And despite moaning last year I’d planted them too close together, I’m delighted to see they’ve all returned!

Plenty of other Narcissi now including ‘Jenny’

 

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‘Peeping Jenny,’IMG_2175

‘Tete a Tete’

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and my first ‘Minnow’ of the year.  This is definitely one of my favourites – the blooms are really dainty, only about 3cm across, so I hope I’ve planted enough to make an impact.IMG_2178

A few other bulbs blooming now – these Muscari, M. Latifolium are returning again from the wedding flowers.  Last year they got rather eaten, so I’m delighted to see them back better than ever this year.  And interestingly, for those who remember the saga of me trying to get these and the N. Elka flowering together on the day,the Elkas are currently nowhere to be seen!

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This last one is the Crocus chrysanthus Miss Vain.  The majority are over now, but if you look closely you’ll see there are daffodils to follow, so hopefully the pot will shortly be rebooted!IMG_2171

I found one of the first bees enjoying the Rosemary (R. prostratus).IMG_2150

And I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve become a bit overrun with Euphorbia, but doesn’t that colour sing (zing?) in the sunshine?IMG_2177

Talking of colour, I know it’s not a bloom, but I couldn’t resist including this Chard.IMG_2172

Continuing on the pink theme, this Daphne x Pink Fragrance ‘Blapink’ is really pumping out the blooms – and scent – now.  It’s in a pot and currently seems happy, but I do wonder if I should plant it out.IMG_2169

The tea tree plant, Leptospermum has just started blooming again after a little rest.  Sadly it has got rather leggy now and I’m not convinced it would resprout from the bottom if I pruned it hard.  Any clues?IMG_2161

There are still plenty of Hellebores but I thought this one was very fine.  Strangely I have no memory of seeing it before, but it seems rather too glamorous to be self seeded.IMG_2158

Of my two witch hazels H. Arnold’s Promise is in full flowerIMG_2156

but H. Aphrodite is still being rather shy.IMG_2153

And to finish, because it was such a glorious day it almost felt like a quick dip might be fun, here’s the Diving Lady, with her pool. IMG_2173

With thanks to Carol at May Dream Gardens who hosts everyone’s GBBDs.  Why don’t you pop over and see what others have blooming now?

In a vase on Monday – Through a vase, darkly

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Having been away last weekend, it feels like the garden has moved on significantly in a fortnight.  One plant, Euphorbia characias Wulfennii, to me epitomises spring with its fresh, zingy, lime green flower heads, and it has self seeded in a number of places.  The fact that those places aren’t necessarily the ones I would have chosen, made cutting it for today’s vase seem like a good idea.  img_2146

In the photo above you can also glimpse a branch of a very leggy pink tipped Hebe, which I was also happy to sacrifice as, too be honest, the whole plant should probably come out.

To these I added some gorgeous Hellebore blooms.  Whilst I recognise they don’t last as long in the vase as they do in the garden, I also recognise that if they’re in the house I will see much more of them so, snip!img_2145

I do like the contrast between the dark and the ‘zing’.  Why don’t you go to Cathy’s website Rambling in the Garden to see what others have put together in their vases this weeks?

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Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

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The house was originally constructed for Jacques Majorelle in the 1930s and from the beginning, the walls were painted in ‘Majorelle blue’.  He designed a garden around the Art Deco house with the rare and exotic plants he’d collected worldwide.dsc00128

The garden was first opened to the public in 1947, but fell into disrepair after his death in 1962.  It was saved from developers when Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent bought it in 1980 and since then the garden has been restored, with many plants added.

Following Saint Laurent’s death in 2008, the garden passed to a new non profit ‘fondation’ to ensure the conservation and maintenance of the property.  The fondation has already opened a fascinating Berber museum within the grounds and are currently working on the ‘Musee Yves Saint Laurent’ which is due to open later this year.

I previously visited this garden in 2006 with two primary age children in tow.  I remember worrying that a garden visit was likely to be very painful, but actually the combination of spiky cacti, bright colours and, most particularly, turtles in the pool proved a winning combination.

Fast forward to 2017 and the turtles have gone, but the other elements are still very much in evidence.

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Unlike the Jardin Secret, this garden is outside the centre of Marrakech and the entrance is off what feels like a residential street, but like the Jardin Secret, there is significant use of water in the design.dsc00135

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It doesn’t have the striking layout of the Jardin Secret, and is definitely busier, but its still a fascinating space with much to recommend it.  Perhaps I’ll return in another ten years to check our the new museum.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how they keep that blue paint looking so fresh…dsc00113

 

 

Le Jardin Secret, Marrakech

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If you want a wonderfully detailed account of this garden, including the history, do head over to the Frustrated Gardener who visited late last year (and in much sunnier weather!)

I realised when we were forced to land in Casablanca to refuel (due to a 40 mile wide thunderstorm sitting over the Marrakech airport) that the weather for our short trip was unlikely to be balmy, and indeed it wasn’t.  Having said that, by Saturday the weather had improved, and by Sunday (when I took my ‘Aloe Aloe’ Wordless Wednesday picture) the sky was a fabulous blue.  Sadly, on Friday when we went garden visiting, all was rather grey.

Le Jardin Secret is situated in Marrakech’s central souk and is an extraordinary oasis amongst the chaos.  It has been open less than a year after a redesign by Tom Stuart-Smith and a fabulous renovation.  It is an absolute triumph.

The space consists of two separate  gardens, the first square and the second rectangular which abut on a corner, each largely invisible from the other.

In this photo you can see the exotic garden to the middle right, with the second, larger, Islamic garden in the main part of the picture.  The link between the two is deliberately small, creating a contrast between the narrow link and the wider gardens themselves.dsc00221

The first photo is of the exotic garden, looking back to elegant reception building seen at the rear.  The view looking the other way, as you first enter the exotic garden, is below.dsc00264

Whilst not a huge fan of battleship grey, it makes a striking back drop for the wonderfully textured planting and the colourful Aloes.dsc00247

I love this Dasylirion acrotrichum – it reminds me of Heatherwick’s ill fated ‘B of the Bang’.dsc00257

Although the exotic garden is segmented and symmetrical, the larger Islamic garden is even more strictly laid out.  The rectangular shape is split into four quadrants, with each quadrant further split into four.

And whereas the planting in the exotic garden is contemporary and from all over the world, the planting in the Islamic garden is much more traditional with repeated planting of olive, pomegranate, fig and date.  Only the herbaceous planting underneath the trees is a modern interpretation of the original swept earth.dsc00156

The grasses really were extraordinary en masse like this.dsc00200

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Throughout both gardens are beautiful rills and fountains, with water being an essential element in Islamic gardens.

The original water system in Marrakech utilised ground drainage tunnels (established in the late eleventh century) which carried water from the Atlas mountains into the city’s mosques, hammams and some of the great houses, including Le Jardin Secret.dsc00238

An exhibiton shows numerous photos taken during the renovation, including this one of the painstaking tile workdsc00165

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From the Islamic garden we climbed up to first floor level above the Oud el Ward pavilion to lunch in the new cafe.

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From here we climbed a further beautifully tiles staircase

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to the top of the tower, from where the layout of the garden was clear.   As the website says “The garden is as a matter of fact a metaphor of heaven; it is a sacred place, laid out according to rigid geometrical rules, in which the Muslim order asserts itself over the wild disorder of nature.”  Heaven indeed.

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Just time to admire one of my favourite plants, Melianthus major, before running the gauntlet of the hawkers once more….dsc00148