Mediterranean Garden Society
Tangier One - Monday 5 to Friday 9 September 2022
The photo at the top of this page shows a view across the city of Tangier (Photo Guardian)
The white-walled city of Tangier lies perched between Africa and Europe, Mediterranean and Atlantic. From the late nineteenth on, it became a center of European diplomacy and a multicultural melting pot and seduced generations of writers, artists, designers and personalities. They built stunning homes and gardens to match. With the help of Virginia Affleck, MGS member and local resident, members will have a unique opportunity to visit some of these gardens as well as to explore the colors, textures and beauty of this vibrant town.
Accommodation - Built in the 1930s, the Five Star El Minzah is beautifully decorated in traditional Moorish style around a sunny Andalusian courtyard. It has ample gardens, 140 elegant, airconditioned rooms, two swimming pools, a health club and spa. The hotel is located in the new city but is a very short walk from the Kasbah.
Tangier One Programme
Day 1 - Monday 5 September
Participants should plan their independent arrival to Tangier in time to check in to El Minzah Hotel and meet up with other participants for our Welcome Drink at 19.00 followed by dinner.
Day 2 - Tuesday 6 September
We depart for the Italian writer and horticulturalist Umberto Pasti’s world-renowned Rohuna out on the Atlantic coast. Making our way across the lush hills of La Montagne and over the pine-covered headland of the Cape Spartel Reserve, a dramatic drive takes to the Cape Spartel Lighthouse. Built between 1861 and 1864 by an international coalition (including the United States, France, Spain, and Morocco) the lighthouse marks the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar. From 300m above sea level we stop to appreciate our position at the northwestern tip of Africa, the vegetation, the cooling breeze, and the panoramic cliff views down to crashing waves and out across to Europe.
Another hour’s drive takes us to the drop off point where, having parked the buses, participants will have the option of a Land Rover transfer or a 1km walk uphill to the garden gate to meet our host. Driven by his passion for the wild flora of Tangier and its surrounding region, over the past two decades Umberto Pasti, together with his team of local gardeners, has transplanted greenery (5,300 species of plants, flowers, and trees) salvaged from construction sites to this stony hillside high above the ocean, where it thrives for most of the year.
Inspired by English and French gardens of the 1930s it is a romantic and untamed paradise. Planted between two small houses is The Garden of Consolation: a series of rooms and terraces with lush vegetation watered all year around to maintain blooms. Surrounding it is the Wild Garden and hillside devoted to wild flowering bulbs. This is a true arcadia: a garden of incomparable beauty with a mission to preserve the botanical richness of the region. After a garden walk together, we picnic “alfresco” with our host before meandering back to the garden gate and the buses for our return to the city.
Continuing the Italian theme, we dine together at Casa D’Italia which is situated within Palace Moulay Hafid or ‘Palace of Italian Institutions’. The location is much admired for its beautiful courtyard garden with old trees.
Day 3 - Wednesday 7 September
We depart for Donabo Botanic Gardens which is the newest garden we visit during our tour. Started only five years ago, it is a forest garden commissioned by Malika El Alaoui to honor her father, a passionate environmentalist, who lived on the property for 50 years. The garden was designed by Paul Belvoir an English decorative artist. It is situated in a natural reserve where nearly one hectare of natural forest has been transformed into a shady botanic garden sitting high up above the sea. We walk the garden with Paul and afterwards lunch in the restaurant on organic produce from Donabo’s kitchen garden cooled by coastal breezes and fantastic views.
We return to town and a visit to St Andrew’s Church. While Morocco is now a Muslim country, this towering Anglican church stands as a vestige of Tangier's international days. Consecrated in 1905, on land granted by Queen Victoria, it is here there is a sense of the flourishing interfaith relations that Tangier was once famous for. In the church's interior the Lord's Prayer is engraved in Arabic behind the altar and quotes from the Koran appear across the Moorish-style walls. Church guardians Virginia and Jasseine will give us a tour of the church and the luxuriant cemetery.
The rest of the afternoon and evening are at leisure.
Day 4 - Thursday 8 September
Kasbah and Vielle Montagne
We divide into two groups to make walking to this morning’s visits, both situated in the Kasbah, more manageable. Both groups will visit:
The American Legation Museum where we spend an hour with the director enjoying an impressive display of paintings that give insight into the Tangerine past through the eyes of its artists.
A private roof terrace garden high up in the Kasbah commissioned by New Yorker Frank de Biasi and his partner Gene Meyer. Frank is an AD 100-listed interior designer with a global client base. In 2019 during lockdown celebrated English garden designer Alexander Hoyle, began work on creating a rooftop oasis for the couple which is housed entirely in vases and pots.
Both groups meet up at the buses outside the Kasbah gates to drive across to La Vielle Montagne.
Our lunch and garden visit takes place at the extraordinary residence of renowned interior decorator Veere Grenney who hosts us. Guests will be welcome to meander through the gardens at their leisure. The garden has unique views of Gibraltar from its long avenues edged with ancient olive trees. Terraces are boldy planted with accents of palms and daturas. Nearer the house hardy perennials are interspersed with large urns of decorative annual blooms.
After returning to the hotel for a re-boot we end the tour with dinner together at the El Morocco Club.
Day 5 - Friday 9 September
Check out, independent transfers to Marrakech or other destinations.
Tour Information - Each tour is open to a maximum of 30 participants and is eligible only to those who are participating in the Marrakech Tour. The tour costs cost 685 euro per person and includes 4 nights accommodation, all visits, guides, transfers, all lunches, three dinners – one night is at leisure. There is a single accommodation supplement of 185 euro for those requiring a single room. The tour cost excludes your arrival to Tangier or transfer to Marrakech.
Accommodation - El Minzah Hotel, 85 Rue de la Liberté, Tangier 90000, Morocco. Four nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis is included in the price of your tour. You are personally liable for all extras consumed during your stay which must be settled before checking out
Arrival and Departures
Disclaimer - This programme is as complete and accurate as possible at the time of publication but may be subject to changes. If you take part in a Mediterranean Garden Society event, you do so entirely at your own risk and neither the Mediterranean Garden Society, nor the organizers, nor the leaders of these events are in any way responsible for the safety of those taking part. Travel insurance is mandatory and all participants will be required to provide proof of such.
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