Morocco in Bloom by Giuppi Pietromarchi

“To be places of respite and joy, gardens combine the lively scents of the day and the night, the harmoniously clashing colours of the flowers, foliage and soil, the warmth of the shade and the freshness of the waters. The colours of the flowers and the clay, softened by the bright light, scents, dense shade, little games played by the perpetually present, murmuring waters…these are the essential features of a Moorish garden.”

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Giuppi Pietromarchi’s husband went to Morocco as the Italian ambassador in 1985 and presented this gardening enthusiast – an interest inherited from her father and grandfather – with the opportunity of reorganising the embassy garden in what she describes as a “miraculous microclimate” where thousands of plants from areas as far flung as Australia and the Americas co-exist, thrive and provide flowers throughout the year.

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Recent years have seen a great increase in interest in gardening in Morocco and also in the number of significant gardens in the country. The author has visited many of these and taken inspiration from them, a commendable approach for someone coming from one growing situation to another. There are lavish and excellent photographs of many of these gardens throughout the book.

I have no doubt, given her position and circumstances, that the author had help in her garden yet it is also obvious that she is very much a hands-on gardener herself as her practical comments show clearly. The book is a month-by-month account of her gardening year with listings of the gardening jobs, descriptions of the gardening work, the features plants of each season, comments and tips. The flowering highlights of each month are discussed along with cultivation notes, comments and advice and there is also a “Compendium”, a collection of interesting notes, snippets of information relevant to that month.

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Arab gardens aim to create heaven on earth; the soul of the garden is the riad, the interior courtyard, and the essence of the garden is the sensation of peace. The author has captured this essential character of Moroccan gardens perfectly and her book gives an excellent insight into gardening in Morocco and is a very pleasant read.

[Morocco in Bloom, Giuppi Pietromarchi with photography from Giulio Pietromarchi, ACC Art Books, England, 2018, Hardback, 256 pages, £35, ISBN: 978-18-51499-04-5]

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