Inspired by North African traditions of horticulture, I had my heart set on creating edible landscapes around our emerging boutique guesthouse. As Meryanne was seeing to foundations, walls and interiors, I set about designing the gardens.
After the earthen wall went up around our property, and the wells were dug, my first step was to create an arsat. This is a quintessential orchard garden, with date palms forming the upper canopy, fruit trees filling the middle space, and beds of culinary herbs and vegetable gardens on the ground. The sunken beds are selectively watered through gravity flow irrigation, and the date palms and fruit trees – citrus, figs and pomegranates – benefit from the soaking.
Some people found it daring that we would have arsat instead of grassy lawns – the expected emblem of Marrakech luxury hotels. I didn’t hesitate a second. Jnane Tamsna was built to reflect our lifestyle and ideals, and I don’t spend my days lounging on grass looking at geraniums. I prefer to be in my arsat, harvesting leeks, oranges and rocket, to the sound of water flowing along the irrigation canals.