My latest garden project is to cultivate a maquis – a Mediterranean shrub landscape – in front of the main entrance of Jnane House. Against a backdrop of Moorish arches, dwarf fan palms and majestic date palms, I had planted jasmine, lavender and rosemary, which made for a beautiful and fragrant combination for a number of years. Because the lavender and rosemary had become woody, and the jasmine invaded by weeds, I decided it was time for a spring cleaning and replanting.
With the advice of the gifted horticulturist, Sadek Tazi – creater of Casa Botanica, Marrakech’s best plant nursery – I chose white rock roses (Cistus corbariensis and C. x purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’), purple wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), India hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Clara’), pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum), white fountain plant (Russelia equisetiformis ‘Alba’), shrubby germander (Teucrium fruticans), Australian coastal rosemary (Westringia brevifolia), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) and a native lavender (Lavandula dentata).
I planted them just in time for a visit by members of the Pacific Horticulture Society, who came to have dinner at Jnane Tamsna during a tour in Morocco led by Katherine Greenberg (co-author of Growing California Native Plants). The maquis will need time to grow, but the result will be a diverse patchwork of textures and understated colors, mostly white with touches of blue and lavender - and the occasional dot of burgundy red, like in the rock rose pictured here.