Category Archives: Theme gardens

The Jardins d’Essais: Rabat’s Historic Botanical Gardens, Part IV, Aquatic Garden and Succulents

The city of Rabat, capital of Morocco, is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Jardins d’Essai Botaniques, literally meaning Gardens of Botanical Trials, was classified a national heritage site in 1992.

These gardens were created between 1914 and 1919, under a joint initiative of the sultan  Moulay Hafid and the French Protectorate. They were designed by one of my favorite garden architects, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, best known for the Rose Garden and the Iris Garden of Bagatelle outside Paris, but who created gardens in Spain and Morocco in addition to his city planning work as a French public servant, laying out the plans for the modern cities of Morocco.

The gardens were reopened by the current King in 2013, following extensive renovations after years of neglect. They include over 650 species of plants, including rare varieties of tropical, sub-tropical, and succulents, and an arboretum.

The Jardins d’Essais are separated by a road into two distinct gardens.  the western side includes the Moorish garden and museum, while the eastern garden is a bit larger and more formal, with distinct garden areas for various types of plants.

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Because there is a good bit to see here, I am dividing this into several posts, and this is the final post featuring the Aquatic Garden and the Succulents and Cacti Garden.

 

Both of these gardens are set off the main promenade which is the axis for all the different theme gardens such as climbers, roses, palms, etc.

The aquatic gardens, much like other areas of the gardens, are still a work in progress.

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The Jardins d’Essais: Rabat’s Historic Botanical Gardens, Part III, Vines, Fruit Trees and Palms

The city of Rabat, capital of Morocco, is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Jardins d’Essai Botaniques, literally meaning Gardens of Botanical Trials, was classified a national heritage site in 1992.

These gardens were created between 1914 and 1919, under a joint initiative of the sultan  Moulay Hafid and the French Protectorate. They were designed by one of my favorite garden architects, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, best known for the Rose Garden and the Iris Garden of Bagatelle outside Paris, but who created gardens in Spain and Morocco in addition to his city planning work as a French public servant, laying out the plans for the modern cities of Morocco.

The gardens were reopened by the current King in 2013, following extensive renovations after years of neglect. They include over 650 species of plants, including rare varieties of tropical, sub-tropical, and succulents, and an arboretum.

The Jardins d’Essais are separated by a road into two distinct gardens.  the western side includes the Moorish garden and museum, while the eastern garden is a bit larger and more formal, with distinct garden areas for various types of plants.

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Because there is a good bit to see here, I am dividing this into several posts, and this is the third post on the eastern gardens.

This is the largest part of the gardens, with a large promenade in the center starting from the main gate, and going up in terraces to culminate in a large series of ponds and fountains at the vey top, from which one is afforded sweeping views of the gardens. It is also the most formal part of the gardens, yet, in true Forestier style, intimate theme gardens are dotted along the sides.

An intricate arbor walk displays different varieties of climbers. An area is allocated to fruit tree with a country style orchard. There are also areas for pomegranates (of which the gardens grow no less than 18 varieties) and olive trees, rose, and palms.

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Central promenade
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Arbor walk for climbers

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Fruiting trees

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Palms

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Water features at the top of the promenade

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Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla: the Garden of the Lions

Maria Luisa, Infanta of Spain (1832-1897) was the younger sister of Isabella II, queen of Spain. She married Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, youngest son of the French King Louis Philippe, and became Duchess of Montpensier.

Most of the grounds that form Maria Luisa Park today where originally part of the Palace of San Telmo and donated by Maria Luisa to the city in 1893 to be used as public gardens. The palace , a magnificent example of Spanish baroque architecture was rehabilitated and converted in the 1990s into the seat of the autonomous government of Andalusia. It stands today just outside Maria Luisa Park.

French urban planner and landscape designer Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, who also created the Bagatelle Rose Garden and the Laribal Gardens in Barcelona, started work on the park in 1911. Also in preparation of the 1929 World’s Fair, architect Anibal Gonzales began work on the Plaza de Espana building and some of the pavilions.

Under Forestier, who had been heavily influenced by the gardens of Andalusia and Morocco, the Park became a Moorish inspired extravaganza of tiled fountains, ponds, arbors, pavillions and other structures, planted in a lush Mediterranean style with vines, bougainvilleas, roses, palms orange trees and flower beds.

I discovered Forestier’s work when in Barcelona, visiting the stunning terraced Laribal Gardens on the hill of Montjuic.  These gardens lead from fountains to gazebos to arbors to rose gardens to the top of the hill where you discover the sweeping views down the hill with water stairs inspired by the Alhambra leading back down. This element of surprise and wonder is one I have found in all of Forestier’s gardens, whether in Paris at Bagatelle, Morocco at the Jardins d’Essais or here.

This park being such an expansive and complex creation, I am featuring it through several posts.This first one showcases the Garden of the Lions (11) and the Fountain of the Alvarez Quintero Brothers (14) just behind it. Both are stunning in very different ways. The Fountain of the Lions features large fountains surrounded with sculptures and geometrical borders with a clear Moorish influence. The Quintero fountain is a masterpiece of tile work that ties in with the incredibly detailed allover moasaics of the Plaza de Espana at the other end of the park.

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The Hassan Tower Gardens in Rabat, Morocco

The city of Rabat, capital of Morocco, is a Unesco World Heritage site, One of the most famous and distinctive landmarks in the city is the Hassan Tower. Begun in the 12th century, it was at one time the second largest mosque in the the islamic world, but little remains of it besides the tower of minaret, reminiscent of the Koutoubia in Marrakech.

At the foot of the tower, are some pleasant gardens, typical of Moorish and Andalusian gardens, with landscaped terraces, meandering paths, and of course the ever present water features connecting multiple levels with canals, ponds and fountains.  While not extraordinary in any way, these are very pleasant gardens worth visiting on a trip to see the Hassan Tower.

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Castle of Trevarez: The Italian Garden

The castle of Trevarez near Chateauneuf du Faou in northern Brittany, France, is one of the last great castles built in France. Construction began in 1892 for a French politician and brought together all the faste and excess of the Belle Epoque, frescoes, carvings, marble, mosaics, ornate panels and fireplaces.

It is often referred to as the pink or red castle, because of the pink color it gets from the bricks used.  It was unfortunately bombed in the 1940s, and has not been occupied since, but it is being renovated by the government who purchased it in the 70s.

The gardens were neglected as well for many years and have been slowly brought back to their original glory, one area at a time. The grounds are extensive, with stables, a large wash house, theme gardens, formal gardens and much more.

In this post, I am featuring one of my favorites of the Trevarez gardens, the Italian garden. It features a pond and grotto, a row of unusual fountains, and a lawn all along the side with a small water canal leading to the stairs going to the Romantic Garden. The Italian Garden is just to the side of the castle.

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Castle of Trevarez in France: The Japanese Gardens

The castle of Trevarez near Chateauneuf du Faou in northern Brittany, France, is one of the last great castles built in France. Construction began in 1892 for a French politician and brought together all the faste and excess of the Belle Epoque, frescoes, carvings, marble, mosaics, ornate panels and fireplaces.

It is often referred to as the pink or red castle, because of the pink color it gets from the bricks used.  It was unfortunately bombed in the 1940s, and has not been occupied since, but it is being renovated by the government who purchased it in the 70s.

The gardens were neglected as well for many years and have been slowly brought back to their original glory, one area at a time. The grounds are extensive, with stables, a large wash house, theme gardens, formal gardens and much more.

In this post, I am featuring the Japanese gardens.There were originally two Japanese gardens: a smaller one nearer the main entrance and a larger one at the other end of the domain on the other side of the castle, but this latter has yet to be redone the way it used to be and after many years of neglect very little is left of it and the woods have reclaimed most of it.

At the entrance of the Japanese garden is a small pavilion; note the intricate paving, the bamboo, and water feature.

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Past the pavilion is the Japanese rock garden with plantings and rock river beds for the stream.

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Container Gardening Ideas: Flowered Bridges of Quimper

The Odet river goes right by the cathedral and through the old town in Quimper, Brittany. The bridges are absolutely covered in the lushest, most elaborate flower box arrangements throughout all  the historic neighborhoods.

 

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