Today’s post is focused on a Moroccan Spice redesign

Tiny gardens are generally undervalued in the portfolio of landscaping professionals.  Very often, the challenge is to create interest and accommodate a long ‘wish list’ in limited space, but when well designed, they can be as satisfying as large gardens and estates.

This tiny 80m² touch of spice in the heart of Cape Town is one such garden. 

Called in to view the site under the auspices of the architect, architect and landscaper were tasked with transforming the entire property (inside and out) into a home reminiscent of what one might find in Morocco.  The partnership, backed by an enthusiastic client, turned out to be an immensely successful collaboration of skills and expertise, delivering a well crafted product on time despite serious time constraints, as the home needed to be ready for the client to move in within 8 weeks at the beginning of October 2018.

Neither architect nor landscaper had ever had such a brief.  The two set about diligently investigating what constituted a Moroccan garden.  Without the luxury of jetting off to the northern tip of Africa, the ‘oracle’ and books were consulted.  This is what was discovered:

Morocco’s climate is hot and dry with breezes off the Atlantic, but very cold in winter.  The more inland one moves, the more extremes the seasonal temperature differences become.  Thus gardens seem to be less about botanical splendour, and more about visually cooling down outdoor spaces.  There is an emphasis on hard materials and plants seem to be a secondary consideration around what will survive the heat.

Morocco has a particular tile tradition, and this finds its way into expression in homes and gardens, much as they do in Persian gardens.  However, the designs tend to be less curlicue’d, and more geometric. 

Water plays a central role, and so this was going to be an important element to include.

In short, a garden that reflected a fusion of African and Arabian gardens needed to be created.  Around these parameters the client needed a seating area under a pergola for alfresco dining in the bigger back garden.  The colour palette was terracotta, and blue found on the opposite side of the colour wheel, with touches of saffron yellow.

The existing pool and decking dominated the front garden, along with a high blank wall facing straight onto the living area.  This presented a challenge as it needed relief and any of the remaining space was needed for movement to and fro.

With such space constraints, the designers realised that plan views would be less useful in selling the concept than some 3D drawings.  (Insert concept design page and before pics)

With a shortened time frame in which to design and install, supplier selection was going to be critical.  Tiling design, for example, could only be done once the tiles were sourced and lead times addressed.  The handmade tiling suppliers were selected more on the basis of their willingness to provide necessary information quickly, and move mountains to make the delivery schedule, than on their price per item.  They needed to see themselves as partners in achieving success, and not simply as suppliers.  Service matters and this project proved the point.

Project Vital Statistics

Design and Installation: Contours Design Studio in collaboration with Marie Middleton Architects

Architect:  Marié Middleton – specialising in residential renovations and new builds, including interiors.
Responsible for all interior spaces; pergola and screen detail design and installation; detailed construction design and installation of built elements of this project.

Contours Design Studio – in-house landscape design and installation services.
Responsible for garden Concept Design; dimension plan for architect; pot selection; tiling design and supply; plant selection and garden installation.


Total Cost of Project:  R 396 500.00

Supplier’s names and contact information:

Renwick Tiles ( Glazed blue tiles
Leo Tiles ( Hand made terracotta tiles

Plants:  Bloemendal Nursery; Fairholme; Nonke; Shadowlands

Pots: Lieberman Pots

Soil amendments:  Red Tractor; Reliance

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