5 artists’ gardens to check out around the world – in pictures

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Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul garden, Mexico City, Mexico

The Mexican surrealist, painter and revolutionary Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was born and died within the walls of her family home, La Casa Azul, in Mexico City.

Bought by her father in 1904, the house’s name comes from the bright blue colour that Frida and her husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, used to paint the walls after the death of Frida’s father in 1941.

The garden features a patio, courtyard and red ochre pyramid built by Rivera as a tribute to and means of displaying pre-Columbian art. It became an extension of Kahlo’s studio when her long-standing disabilities (she was almost killed in a trolley-car accident two months after her 18th birthday, and had more than 30 operations on her pelvis and spine) confined the artist to the house towards the end of her life.

Derek Jarman’s Garden, Prospect Cottage, Kent, England

Next to the wooden fisherman’s cottage that became his home, and within sight of a nuclear power station, the artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman (1942-1994) created a garden from the flints, driftwood and marine debris that washed up on the otherworldly shingle shore at Dungeness in Kent.

“Paradise haunts gardens, and some gardens are paradises. Mine is one of them,” Jarman said. “Others are like bad children, spoilt by their parents, over-watered and covered with noxious chemicals.”

Profoundly idiosyncratic, this eccentric, romantic, rebellious garden has become an inspiration for many gardeners, and a pilgrimage site for Jarman’s fans.

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé's Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, Morocco

It took the French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962), the son of the famous art-nouveau designer Louis Majorelle, 40 years to create the exotic four-hectare garden in the heart of Marrakech that was to become his most famous work.

By the time Majorelle died in 1962, the garden had already been opened to the public, and four years later it was discovered by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé during their first visit to the Ochre City.

The couple saved the garden from demolition by buying Majorelle’s estate in 1980, then restored it with the help of a team of 20 gardeners.

Saint Laurent died in Paris in June 2008, and his ashes were scattered in the estate’s rose garden. A memorial was built in the garden, designed around a Roman pillar with a plate bearing the designer’s name.

Edward James’s Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico

An Eton- and Oxford-educated multimillionaire, Edward James (1907-1984) was one of surrealism’s foremost patrons, and counted Salvador Dalí and René Magritte among his friends. Among his commissions were Dalí’s Mae West Lips sofa (1937) and Lobster Telephone (1936), both of which became 20th-century art-and-design icons.

James discovered Xilitla deep in the Mexican jungle in 1947 while he was searching for a “surreal Eden” that might house his orchid collection, and immediately bought 100 hectares of forest.

Of that purchase, 20 hectares became Las Pozas, a garden that required 50 full-time gardeners to keep the surrounding jungle at bay.

In 1962, a rare frost destroyed James’s entire orchid collection. From that moment, he worked with a local carpenter to build the extraordinary concrete structures that dominate the garden today.

Niki de Saint Phalle's Giardino dei Tarocchi, Tuscany, Italy

A riotous garden of mosaic-clad, oversized sculptures inspired by the tarot, Antonio Gaudí’s Parc Güell in Barcelona and the 16th-century Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo, Italy, the Giardino dei Tarocchi was created by the French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) in Tuscany, between 1979 and 1998, when it was opened to the public.