Tag Archives: Hugh Johnson’s The Principles of Gardening

Jardin Majorelle, Morocco

What I know about Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion designer, as opposed to his enormous, well-known cultural celebrity, is limited to sewing up some of his “rich peasant” and stunning Russian collection designs off of Vogue patterns in high school. Before collecting plants and obsessing over gardens, I collected fabrics and obsessed over….well, mostly fabrics really. I never made the jump to obsession with high fashion, though there was a short stint in dress-making and pattern-making school. But as it happened, Saint Laurent did something later in life that left even those clueless about haute couture forever in his debt. He bought the fabulous Jardin Marjorelle, where the pigment bleu Majorelle was born. If you’ve ever painted a garden wall or a fence, as I did, a vivid electric blue, knowingly or not, this garden in Morocco created by French painter Jacques Majorelle is the source of that gesture.

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When I heard that photographer MB Maher was headed for North Africa, I made a special request that he photograph the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco. For about 50 dirham, roughly $13.61 in US dollars, the Jardin Majorelle is open to everyone year round.

Boy, do I owe Maher for this one.

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scenes from Versailles

As promised, photos of the gardens of Versailles, the apogee of the French formal garden style, designed by landscape architect Andre Le Notre for King Louis XIV of France (September 5, 1638 – September 1, 1715). With itinerant photographer MB Maher in town briefly for a friend’s wedding, I was able to shake his coat upside down and turn the pockets out for photos from his recent travels. He’s already back to England, then again to France, so do contact him here for any inquiries or just to chat about projects, or if even just for a drink in the local tavern, where he’ll probably leap over the bar and take over mixology duties. He’s an omnivorous fellow interested in just about everything.

Ready for a stroll? Properly attired, bewigged, perfumed, and powdered? Ladies should be outfitted something like this, give or take a few decades in the evolution of costume:

Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons, image found here.

Cue the rustle of satin and taffeta swishing over gravel walkways, the whispered plans for afternoon trysts, the rhythmic, metallic clipping and snipping by fleets of gardeners as they maintain the miles of hedges and topiary (presaging a somewhat more reactionary use of sharp cutting instruments to be used upon Louis XIV’s descendants).

Prepare to be awed at what the Sun King has wrought.


By the beginning of the seventeenth century, with a Medici as Queen of France, the royal palace gardens in Paris were largely Italian in plan.”
— Hugh Johnson, The Principles of Gardening

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