When Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought Marrakesh’s famous Majorelle Garden in the 1980s, they enlisted Abderrazak Benchaâbane to help bring it back to life.
‘A garden reflects the soul of the person who created it,’ says the botanist, who spent years restoring it to painter Jacques Majorelle’s original vision.
In 2011, Benchaâbane created his own botanical ‘self portrait’ on a former farm, where he lives today. Sited just outside Marrakech, Musée de la Palmeraie has three distinct spaces: a dry garden with cacti imported from the Americas, a water garden oasis lined with palm trees, and a fruit-tree filled garden inspired by those in Alhambra, Andalusia.
Benchaâbane welcomed us into his private home and the verdant two-hectare park in which it sits. Also within the grounds is a contemporary art gallery and perfumery – the latter inspired by the French fashion designer. ‘When I restored the Majorelle gardens, Yves Saint Laurent asked me to make a perfume for the shop,’ he says. ‘It’s thanks to him that I became a perfumer. All I’ve learned in the garden is useful to me today in the creation of scents.’
The botanist’s heightened appreciation of fragrance, colour and texture makes a wander around the Musée de la Palmeraie a multi-sensory feast.
Film by Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek.