Jnane's Blog: Oasis Lifestyle in Marrakech

Gary's picture

Scandinavian citrus

Sun, 02/24/2013 - 09:31 -- Gary

Our gardening workshops were inspired by citrus and Scandinavia.  This may seem a curious combination, but it is really quite simple. When a Danish family visited Jnane Tamsna a few years ago, the father told me that his young daughter was dreaming of plucking tangerines directly from the tree. As I come from Michigan – and saw an orange on a tree for the first time when I was a teenager – I could relate to this.

We ventured into the garden, and the three-year-old – lifted by her father to the height of the fruits – harvested her first citrus.  As Jnane Tamsna is popular with families, this experience inspired me to get visiting children involved in garden discovery, from planting seeds, to transplanting seedlings and gathering vegetables.

It has become a seed to compost experience, as we even show the kids where we throw the orange peels and other compostable garden refuse.  This all makes the gardeners happy, as they like working with children, and are always happy to have their helping hands.  

Meryanne's picture

Marrakech Agritourism

Thu, 02/21/2013 - 17:40 -- Meryanne

If you happen to be flying First or Business Class on American Airlines, check out the article “Back to the Land” in Celebrated Living magazine's spring 2013 issue.  Written by Los Angeles-based freelance journalist Tanvi Chheda, it features Jnane Tamsna among the global places to go for agritourism – the growing trend of visiting farms, ranches, vegetable gardens and vineyards while travelling.

Tanvi writes of Jnane Tamsna’s green spaces, “These enchanting gardens, along with a nearby 150-acre plot of farmland, supply the hotel’s restaurant, but also serve as part playground and wonderland for children and their parents too. Depending on the season, kids might pick mandarins or dig up carrots; parents might harvest olives and then taste the olive oil pressed from them.”

Meryanne's picture

Meissen in Marrakech

Mon, 02/18/2013 - 04:15 -- Meryanne

Two years ago, Dr. Christian Kurtzke, CEO of the world famous china brand Meissen, asked me to design a collection. The request surprised me, as I had never designed tableware before.  Prior to answering, I went to the beautiful Dresden Museum in Saxony to understand if there could be a link between Marrakech and Meissen.

Gary's picture

Wild asparagus

Sun, 02/17/2013 - 04:36 -- Gary

I know spring is in the air when the wild asparagus starts to sprout at Jnane Tamsna. It is now that time of the year, the season to enjoy our fresh arugula, salad greens, spinach and other spring vegetables.  It is also the moment to plant seeds for our summer harvest of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.

Among the other organic vegetables I am cultivating this year are two cultivated heirloom asparagus varieties, ‘Argenteuil’, from France and ‘Mary Washington’, developed in California.  With both cultivated and wild asparagus on the Jnane Tamsna grounds, we will have a consistent supply of tender stalks in season, from late January until early March.  When the season ends, we leave the remaining sprouts to grow and flower, strengthening the rhizomes to produce an even better crop the following year.

Gary's picture

Arsat orchard gardens

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 18:17 -- Gary

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. 

Meryanne's picture

The horse healer

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 08:04 -- Meryanne

Our daughter is passionate about riding horses in the Palmeraie, where she grew up. Since the age of 11 she has had a horse, Lalezan (a French word that means chestnut-colored, originally from the Arabic áṣhab, "reddish, reddish-brown"). A few years ago, Lalezan went through rough times. He caught a very contagious cough, and had to be isolated at the riding stables. Then he wounded his leg.

After a European trained veterinarian said he would never recover, a limping, emaciated Lalezan came home to Jnane Tamsna for his final days. Not giving up hope we opted for another path: a traditional healer came with medicinal herbs, oils and ointments, bringing home the legacy of ancient veterinary science in Morocco. Little by little the wounded leg healed and the limping faded. Lalezan gained weight, his chestnut hair and former spirit returned.

Meryanne's picture

Marrakech constantly evolves

Sat, 02/09/2013 - 18:16 -- Meryanne

This afternoon I went to the medina, the historic center of Marrakech. I was looking for some inspiration and possible props for a coming photographic shoot at Jnane Tamsna of the Meissen china I designed, called ‘Garden of Marrakech’.

A few yards from Bab Laksour, I happened upon a half-opened door, revealing a courtyard of white marble. I ventured in and discovered a surprisingly large riad – one of the interior courtyard houses typical of the medina. Enquiring further, I learned this beautifully designed space will host Marrakech’s first stylish Spanish restaurant, a guesthouse of 13 bedrooms, and an underground spa in tones of gold and white.

I love it that even during a global economic crisis, Marrakech continues to burgeon with projects, ideas and diversity. When I first stepped foot here 27 years ago, I thought, ‘if I am mad about this place, other people will be too’. Every day I am thrilled to realize it is true.

Gary's picture

Jnane's Date Palms

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 08:29 -- Gary

We inherited date palms.  In 1999, when we bought the land in Douar Abiad where we eventually built Jnane Tamsna, we were faced with an expanse of barren land dotted with many palm trees accompanied by a few massive carob and wild pistachio trees. 

I knew the palms were a legacy of an early dynasty of Marrakech, the Almoravids. From the late 11th century until their fall in the 12th century, they built an extensive system of water harvesting called khettara in Arabic.

These tunnels carried fresh water to Morocco’s northernmost oasis, the Palmeraie (palm grove) of Marrakech. 


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