Muslim, Islamic, Moorish, Oriental or Arabian style of landscape design is in a new era today. Influenced by the trend toward more and more landscape projects with natural plantings, the fashion for their complete opposite has also grown. Ornamentality, precision, subtle relationships and a surprising sense of harmony of the Muslim garden offer a much "fresh" alternative to the fashion for simplicity, than already bored with the French or Dutch directions. Inviting to search for the sense in everything and to create complex landscapes with simple tools, the Arabic style opens new horizons in decorating a colorful garden with impeccable image in a minimal space. © Jearld Moldenhauer
Special philosophy of Moorish and Muslim gardens
Moorish style (also known as Arabian, Oriental and Moorish) - a direction of landscape design, ranked among the most traditional. It strictly defines not only the philosophy and ethics of garden design, but also its structure, the tools and plants used. It is the only garden design trend that is very firmly rooted and is inextricably linked to historical projects.
While Arab gardens are influenced by both modern trends and garden fashion, they are decorated according to immutable principles and rules that can only be manipulated in detail. Probably that is why the Muslim garden is so easily recognized, as all projects are departing from the same standards and canons.
Moorish style, inspired by the Spanish gardens and developed as a symbiosis of different trends in landscape design, born at the junction of European and Arab culture, remains the most influential direction of the Muslim style today.
The luxury of the Orient, adapted to a different climate, opens up the possibility of designing a Moorish garden also in regions far from subtropical and tropical climates. Islamic and Moorish trends in landscape design formed their foundations before the 15th century. Today they are almost indistinguishable from each other and are considered almost synonymous.
Philosophical ideas of Muslim gardens are inseparable from the religious perception of the world. A Moorish garden is a project that reproduces a whole model of the universe, drawing on rich Eastern traditions and culture. Any garden in the Islamic style is a symbol of paradise garden, with historically established design laws and obligatory elements.
Such gardens for many people is a symbol of almost screaming luxury, unrestraint in the motley colors and numerous patterns and ornaments. The main characteristics of a Muslim garden are rightly called:
- bright colors and variegated color combinations;
- the emphasis on mosaics and ornamentation;
- multitude of forms;
- an abundance of greenery;
- strict structure;
- the important role of water features;
- isolation from the outside world;
- domination of masonry;
- lack of lawns;
- presence of flowering and fruiting plants;
- important role of scents and sounds.
In the Moorish garden the extremely strict and straightforward form is softened and compensated for by plants and details. The symbiosis of elementary geometry and undemanding greenery gives birth to a wonderful feeling of luxury and abundance, which cannot be found in any other style of landscape design. Small details are linked in a sophisticated system which gives rise to a special mood and atmosphere.
Space, extension of borders, playing with the optical perception and the balance of mass and volume are not the order of the Moorish garden. It relies on multiple stimuli, affects different senses simultaneously and creates a sense of magical, fairy-tale detachment from everyday life.
Moorish gardens are small gardens
Moorish gardens are gardens of limited space. Usually this style is chosen for the design of those plots where it is simply not possible to have a garden of another style. Like the historical examples of the Muslim garden, the modern Arabian style offers to create an oasis on a small area, but giving a full atmosphere of relaxation in a perfect corner.
Use this style not only in small gardens. Large areas are divided into rooms or zones of square shape, creating separate spaces from each other, in each of which look for something new. A Moorish garden can also be designed as one of the zones of a larger garden decorated in other styles.
Gardens that are decorated in Moorish style, whether inspired by the South of Spain or the Middle East, are always surrounded by high walls. Classic fences or green hedges, high trellises twined with vines - there is a choice. The main thing is to have a complete sense of closure from the outside world. Even if the matter concerns only a single zone, it is still separated from the rest of the garden with a high wall.
The structure and basic elements of a Muslim garden
All Muslim gardens are built on squares. Even if the style is applied to a large rectangular or irregular-shaped area, it is divided into separate square zones following one another, or an authentic Moorish garden is designed in the square zone close to the house, and the rest of the territory is played with other styles. Thanks to them, in practice, the principle of four gardens, or chor-bagh - the symbolic embodiment in the garden design of the four sacred rivers that flow from the Garden of Eden and divide it into equal parts.
Where the paths intersect is the semantic and geographical center of the Moorish garden, the design of which is always paid special attention. The square section of the garden determines its strict geometric structure, which is not changed even in the original modern reading of the Oriental style.
Each separate secondary square in a Muslim garden, if the dimensions allow, can be divided into four more squares. In turn, a central water feature or small architectural object can be introduced into each "unit," playing endlessly with the squares and their variations. Arteries or paths can also be laid diagonally if the size of the garden allows playing with symmetry in complex ornaments.
Paths in a Muslim garden are always completed with a striking architectural element. An arch, a green tunnel, a decorative gate or false doors and gates should mark the end of each path and create a visual point to "fix" its length, to complete the perspective.
The central part of the garden and each individual square is the most important element of design. In the very geographical center of the square plot a water body or create a zone for recreation, which will be the semantic center of the project.
The most popular design option of the central part - expanded paved area, in which the fountain, pool or decorative pond with a fountain is inscribed. A square or round pond perfectly copes with this task. But there are also alternative solutions - from a pavilion or gazebo with lines appealing to Arabic motifs to the placement of a rose garden.
Water in all forms
Water plays a special role in the Moorish style. The idea of a bountiful or paradisiacal garden is emphasized in Moorish style by the obligatory presence of water objects, which intensify the feeling of an oasis. Water values, rooted in Arab culture, made water a central point and compulsory feature in any Moorish garden.
The symbol of eternal life and purification is also introduced into the heart of the garden, chipping away at the centerpiece of each secondary square, laying along the axes and bringing in as much as budget can allow.
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Canals, austere ponds, pools, bathers, cascades, streams and other bodies of water allow not just to emphasize the geometry of the garden, but also to fill it with new meaning. In Muslim gardens flat, paved or decorated with mosaics, with the obligatory strict frame, ponds are made flat, placing almost at the level of paths or on an elevation. The drop of water and water amusement, the installation of fountains or the creation of natural movement of jets fills the garden with sound.
Water plants are not used in Muslim gardens, as well as fountains in the form of sculptures. Only the pure play of jets is appropriate here.
Materials and colors in a Moorish garden
Materials in the design of Moorish gardens are also defined quite strictly. Ceramics, glass, marble, painted concrete and all kinds of patterned paving and mosaics in such gardens should be present as much as possible.
Ornamental masonry of paths and squares, mosaics in the decoration of austere ponds, complex versions of combined masonry with mixing of materials should recreate the feeling one has when entering the gardens and parks of Arab countries.
Preferred to in Moorish gardens remain sunny, cheerful colors and rough textures - rough surfaces, matte coatings or, conversely, the bright gloss of ceramic tiles and mosaics. White fills gardens with festivity, but it can also be complemented by yellow, all shades of beige and terracotta, and brick colors. Dazzling sky blue, pure golden yellow, and muted basic terracotta are classics to complement the white base.
In the choice of patterns, small architecture is worth remembering the ban on any images of animals and people.
Lounge areas in a Muslim garden
Lounge areas in a Moorish-style garden should remind one of the covered terraces of traditional designs, galleries hidden not only from prying eyes, but also from the sun at the height of summer. Terrace in the form of an enclosed patio, a recreation area under a canopy or green roof, green room or pavilions with gazebos - designs are chosen so as to fit into the style restrictions.
Baskets and marquees can be both seasonal and stationary. In the recreation areas bright textiles and comfortable sofas are used, which will recreate the atmosphere of oriental gardens.
The abundance of textiles, forged elements, accessories, ceramics, the selection of furniture with Arabic motifs, playing with mirrors and traditional cultural elements can enhance the atmosphere and set the tone for the whole garden. Tandoor and mosaic tables, arbs and candlesticks, hookahs and fancy teapots - in the recreation area in Moorish style any objects and any ornaments are appropriate.
Atmosphere of Moorish gardens can be emphasized and enhanced with decorative lighting. Most often sources of additional lighting are "tied" to water bodies.
Moorish style plants
The plants for the Moorish garden are selected so as to create a sense of a garden of paradise. Bright colors, dominance of flowers and pure greenery of trees and bushes, vines and fruit trees fill such gardens with life, colors and harmony.
One of the most popular objects of a Muslim garden is a rose garden. Fragrant and luxurious, it offers a tribute to the garden princess by selecting the most brightly colored and fragrant varieties. Rosaries can frame fountains and ponds, or they can be arranged as flowerbeds, emphasizing the beauty and luxury of the plants with bright accessories. Roses can also be planted singly, using as many of them as possible.
Carpet beds and mixborders, ornate arabesques and parterres can fill squares with patterns and imitate, with perennials and annuals, the effect of oriental carpets.
In the selection of plants it is important to consider several important criteria:
- creating a baton of flowering, a combination of plants with different flowering periods for the effect of ever-present colors;
- selection of the brightest and cleanest, "absolute" colors;
- priority in selection for classic crops.
In Muslim gardens, carnations, poppies, cornflowers, chrysanthemums, peonies, irises, lilies, lilies, all kinds of carpet perennials look great. In such a project you can introduce any number of bright bulbous accents - from tulips to crocuses and other primordial flowers. Spicy herbs and aromatic plants of all sizes and shapes are more than appropriate, as well as bright summer plants - from fragrant tobacco to ageratum, gypsophila, lavateria, lobelia, petunias, which allow playing with textures as well as with colors.
The flowerbeds in the Muslim garden according to historical traditions are patterned, allowing the plants to develop freely. But today the lack of architectural solutions or an abundance of detail in mosaics and water features are sometimes compensated for by high sheared borders, including ornamental motifs of green frames in the lines.
Trees with strict crowns are inappropriate here. This is a garden for freely developing plants. Purely ornamental species are less popular than fruit trees. To enjoy the harvest of your fruit right off the branches is a luxury that immediately changes the atmosphere. Apple trees, cherries, cherry trees, apricots, plums - the choice of fruit plants can be to your liking.
Beautifully flowering shrubs, placed alone, selected from among the most lush classics. In addition to roses, chubushniki and hydrangeas, spireas, quince, rose hips are appropriate. Flowering or deciduous vines, from roses to clematis, actinidia and vines on lancet arches, obelisks and walls are also always appropriate in this style.
The tropical and subtropical plants that have become a symbol of the Muslim garden - pomegranates, palms, citrus fruits, laurels and many other plants - are introduced in the design as caddies, being placed in places that lack expressive accents.