Walking along a shady path, lined with ivy-covered tall palm trees and fringed with Stipa tenuissima, Anima entices you in through the big gate at the end, into…a mad paradise, full of art and sculpture, surprise and frisson. It is a total delight for people of all ages, an out of the normal experience and most of all, genuinely engaging and often funny. It is a garden on hallucinogens, which grabs you with both hands.
Designed and planted in by the Austrian Renaissance-man artist, installationist, poet, musician, actor and writer that is André Heller, this garden didn’t exist at all in early 2010. In just 7 years and with the help of 70 local employees, the garden of 8 hectares is a show-stopper, it also has a lovely cafe, exhibition spaces and an artisanal craft shop to boot. There is no rhyme or reason, no tags on the plants, no signs on the artwork- there is nothing to come between you and the experience of walking amongst forms and plants whilst discovering what lies ahead of you down the many twisty paths. So here is some of what I discovered.
And there is much to love in the planting too. There is an exuberant use of common or garden marguerites, daisies and chrysanthemums of all colours and sizes weaving in and out of more decorous planting, sinous paths lead between and through bamboo and palm, with creepers lacing the tops of the trees, and many roses in bud, ready to be enjoyed in a couple of weeks.
This garden is easily reached from Marrakesh. From the Kouttoubia Mosque carpark, a shuttle bus goes at various times in the morning or afternoon, so first book your tickets online and then book your seats on the shuttle bus of your choice for free. It’s a pretty 40 minute ride out of Marrakesh into the countryside. And there the joy of Anima awaits.