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Eden Revisited by Umberto Pasti & Ngoc Minh Ngo (Rizzoli, $125)
When Italian writer and horticulturist Umberto Pasti first came to the Moroccan village of Rohuna, near Tangier, 20 years ago, an otherworldly experience saw him seized by an intense desire to stay. His wish becoming the villagers’ command, he hired a team he now considers family to help him build a home here with his French-born fashion-designer partner Stephan Janson — and a magnificent garden. A series of open-air rooms criss-crossed with pathways, this famed oasis is filled with thousands of plants rescued from construction sites, making it a sanctuary for local species threatened by progress. Wonder infuses its 25 acres in spaces such as the Bone Garden decorated with skulls, and an entire hillside devoted to preserving indigenous flowering bulbs. Umberto has a spiritual connection to this land and its people, and thanks to the breathtaking imagery by Vietnamese photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo, reading his book is kind of transcendent too.

MAIN IMAGE Potted canna lilies and wild oleanders flourish in this sheltered spot in the Winter House Garden. Entering this space, you pass through an archway covered in three types of jasmine. TOP Chinioui’s Terraces are planted with myriad fruit trees and flowering fancies. ABOVE Everything began in this very spot, when on his first trip to the area, Umberto stopped to take a nap in the shade of this centuries-old fig tree. Legend has it that rural spirits called jennun take hold of those who sleep beneath trees, and Umberto believes they visited him and have guided him in his quest to restore this land to its former glory.

Words Philippa Prentice 

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