The Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle) previously the Jardin Bou Saf, was designed by the French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924. He was the son of the celebrated Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nancy in 1901 and 1919 he went to Marrakech where he built the garden. He developed a special shade of blue, which he used extensively in the garden that is named after him, Majorelle Blue. It has sometimes been, mistakenly, called Klein Blue.
The garden though quite small is cleverly planned with pathways winding among the foliage, so that it appears larger than it is. Every corner reveals a new vista, with pottery urns painted in the distinctive cobalt blue that has come to be known as “bleu Majorelle”, or in one of just three other shades in a harmonious limited palette – pale blue, deep vivid orange or an acid yellow. Plants are grouped like with like, with the area near the entrance displaying a wide collection of cacti. There are also bougainvillea, palms, olive trees and bamboo. There are water features with goldfish, turtles and small frogs, their edges and fountains painted in the same colour scheme as the pots.
At the centre of what was Majorelle’s workshop and later Saint Laurent’s studio, is now home to the small museum of Islamic Art; where sadly it is forbidden to take photographs. Other buildings house a pretty café and a bookshop.
Although the Majorelle Garden has existed in Morocco for decades, it was only made famous abroad when the Majorelle Garden’s former owner, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, featured it in the 1997 Chelsea Flower Show in London. Since this time, many have journeyed to Morocco just to see the Majorelle Garden.
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle in 1980 and saved it from falling victim to a hotel complex. The new owners decided to live in the Villa Bou Saf Saf, which they renamed Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”