I’ve just returned from a holiday in Andalucia, Spain and whilst there we visited The Alhambra.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising beautiful buildings dating from the 14th century, but the area I was most interested in is the garden known as Generalife (Garden of Paradise).
The design principles used in Islamic gardens are very specific.
The shapes used are usually rectangles or squares.
The sight and sound of water is used to provide a cool, calm atmosphere. As water was (and is today) a precious commodity, it’s used sparingly but effectively in shallow rills and pools throughout the garden.
The whole garden is sub-divided into smaller areas formed by walls and hedges, but are all subtely linked visually by the unity of materials, such as water bowls and paving patterns, achieving a harmonious feel.
Intensly scented roses and lush green plants prevent the gardens feeling too monastic and controlled.
These are simple ideas that can be transferred to any garden where a calm, ordered style is wanted:
- minimise the number of objects used
- link areas by repeating objects, plants or colours throughout the garden
- use rectangular shapes, simple pools and fountains.
On a practical note:
it’s best to book tickets for the Alhambra in advance
it’s a huge site, so arrive early if you can and allow plenty of time.
I hope this inspires you.
images: Jill Anderson