Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Silence Between the Songs - Enchanted Gardens of Fez

Silence Between the Songs is the first Fez Open Gardens event to be held in the Medina during the Fes Festival.

Opening on Friday June 8, the three gardens that are part of the event can be viewed daily until June 17.

"We're creating a trail between the gardens, with green flower symbols painted on the cobbles to indicate the route," says Robert Johnstone, whose beautiful garden in the ruin at Riad Idrissy can be viewed daily from noon until 8pm. Cold drinks are also on offer, so visitors can sit and enjoy the relaxed ambiance.

Robert Johnstone

The other gardens in the scheme are Jardin des Biehn, which is a short walk away, and opens from 10am to 10pm, and Fes et Gestes, which is open from 1.30pm to 4pm.

"Each garden is very different," says Johnstone, who has been a keen gardener since he lived in London.

Jardin des Biehn is based on traditional Islamic forms, with water channels intersecting the garden, and fountains at one end. It was formerly the summer palace of a pasha who housed his concubines and slaves there. Now a boutique hotel, the rooms all open onto the lovely garden, which features roses, irises, large trees and a variety of edible herbs.

Fes et Gestes is a colonial house, which is now a chambre d'hote. It has four equal garden beds, with a grand fountain in the centre.

As for the garden in the ruins at Riad Idrissy, Johnstone describes it as "half garden, half allotment".
In it he grows gardenias, a jacaranda, papyrus, and a mix of edibles that are used in the riad's kitchen, such as verbena, mint, chillies, sorrel, rosemary, parsley and tomatoes.

Part of the delightful "Garden in the Ruins" at Riad Idrissy

"(Artist) Margaret Lanzetta is designing tablecloths for us to use during the event," he says. Lanzetta's work is particularly appropriate as much of it is based on organic patterns.

(See our story on Margaret Lanzetta here)

"We hope to develop this into a bigger event every year, along the lines of the Cordoba Patio Festival, where every spring people open their houses and tourism soars," says Johnstone.

For all information on the Fès Festival visit here

(Photos and story - Suzanna Clarke)
(Brochure design: Mike Lilley)

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