A plant maze of 4 hectares
The exotic gardens, founded by Marcel François who was very fond of plants mainly the aquatic ones, were neglected for lack of means since two decades. Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of Environment which is committed to Her Royal Highness the Princess Lalla Hasnaa « green bet » and to the rehabilitation of the historical gardens of the Kingdom, could not remain indifferent to this situation. So, after having finished the relooking of Arsat Moulay Abdeslam, a magnificent 8 hectares garden at the heart of Marrakech city, and its reopening in January 2005, it was the turn of the exotic gardens of Bouknadel to be reopened at the end of summer.
The renovation works which have started in 2002, without interruption, have been entrusted to pluridisciplinary teams, under the effective coordination of the Foundation. They have been financed by a group of citizenship enterprises, such as the BMCE-Bank and its partners RMA-Al Watanya and Meditel, as well as the Moroccan National Office of Tourism.
The beginning of the works took place only after some analyses and surveys to track down the essence of the exotic gardens as they have been conceived by their founder Marcel François. The trees have been perfectly preserved. These works have essentially dealt with the infrastructures : buildings, alleys, access and parking, irrigation, etc.
The exotic gardens offer today eleven gardens to be discovered in two visit tours. Whether Congolese, Peruvian, Mexican gardens or those of the West Indies, or Polynesia, the plantings of Marcel François attest of a very eclectic passion, satisfied by study trips and a work done with the patience of a collector and an acclimatizer. The Florida bald cypress, calodendron, ficus, mimosa, the magnificent trees with a remarkable size, are set around waterways. The aquatic plants occupy a particular place in the choice made by Marcel François. A tropism which finds its explication in the fact that Marcel François was originally a producer-exporter of aquatic plants on the same land which became afterwards the exotic gardens as they are known today.
An educational dimension
As all the actions of the Foundation are to be accompanied with an educational and a prospective dimention, the exotic gardens of Bouknadel will benefit from a project for their extension on the nearby land of 4 hectares recently purchased for this purpose.
Besides the vivarium, the aquarium, the aviary, the Moorish coffee and the musuem already existing, the second part of the works will allow the building of a multimedia centre with a library, an arboretum and a small pedagogical farm.
Since September 2005, the exotic gardens of Bouknadel present once again to their visitors this magnificent circuit offering them some kind of relaxation along with a botanical discovery. A revival achieved thanks to the will of Her Royal Highness the Princess Lalla Hasnaa and the support which she succeeds to federate.