Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden

Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden

The name Gertrude Jekyll has been a huge influence on gardens of today. To understand her importance you need to see Munstead Wood, her garden. Watch this 3minute video.

This delightful video reveals that the garden, though aged and matured, retains its atmosphere, charm and style as a place of gardening history. It is still open to visitors, but only by appointment

Gertrude Jekyll's garden photo

Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood

This recommended book reveals Gertrude as a much gifted artist and crafts women, writer, photographer, business-woman and knowledgeable student of architecture. Her artistic background enabled her to paint with flowers and bring to the traditional Victorian gardens of her age a refreshing new way of artistic gardening.

Like her friend William Robinson she was scathing about the stiff, regimented style of Victorian gardens. Here she writes about carpet bedding:

When the ingenious monstrosity was completed the chief impression it gave was that it must have taken a long time to do. Whether it was worth doing or not did not come in question for this game was the fashion. Happily we know better now we are learning how to use our plants in the ways they deserve.

A Gardener’s Testament
Colour schemes for the garden

Colour Schemes in the Garden

This, the most popular of her many books, is full of exciting ideas for our own gardens today. Munstead Wood became a cradle of inspiration as she ‘painted’ a beautiful picture using this woodland garden in the Surrey countryside as her canvas.

One only has to look at her beautiful colour garden planting plans to see the artist at work. They are beautiful pieces of art in themselves with each plant drift given distinct colour and varieties clearly written by hand. These exact plans were sent in the post from Munstead Wood to her 400 plus garden clients.

The famous Long borders at RHS Wisley

Her famous long border, which was the centrepiece of the garden at Munstead Wood was designed to be at its best from mid-July to October. Subtle drifts of colour harmonies changed along the length of the border bringing a gentle beauty. Many modern gardens, with the space to do so, have adapted her example, as in the spectacular ‘Long Borders’ at RHS Wisley (above).

June pink roses

The English Cottage Garden

It was from her interest in the simple cottages and gardens of Surrey that the idea of cottage gardens was born. It’s a style many of us love today. There’s a bit of Gertrude Jekyll in most modern gardens, however small they may be. Mine included (above).

The purpose of a garden is to give happiness and repose of mind first above all other considerations. This kind of happiness is much more often enjoyed in the contemplation of the homely border of hardy flowers than in any of the great formal gardens.

From ‘Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood‘.
Portrait of Gertrude Jekyll

The Artist and the Architect

Gertrude Jekyll loved Surrey with its old country cottages that seemed to ‘grow out of the ground’. Made by local craftsmen using local material they were simple buildings in the ‘arts and craft’ style. Her own house built in the garden she had already started sits in the garden landscape beautifully.

Here she expresses her respect for one local stonemason who worked on the building of the house:

He was nearly stone deaf, left handed, and had lost one eye, but his work was some of the truest and best I have ever seen. His whole heart was in it.

Quoted inGertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood

Her interest in architecture brought her in touch with the young architect Edwin Lutyens. It was the start of a very fruitful partnership between the two as architect and artist created many beautiful and stylish gardens as at Hestercombe, in Somerset.

New for this year I’ve planted the rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll‘ (just coming into bloom) in a terracotta tub by a garden seat. One of the most fragrant of modern English roses it will be a regular reminder of this great gardener.

Top featured photo

Part of the early summer border at Munstead Wood-http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/munstead_wood_garden

2 thoughts on “Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden

  1. What a wonderful tribute to Gertrude Jekyll, Richard! She was a huge influence on me; I have most of her books and “Colour Schemes for the Garden” was my gardening bible for many years. While I never went to Munstead Woods, I visited Hestercombe many years ago and didn’t want to leave. I had never considered the role of Lutyens in her work before then and found that walking his paths and sitting in his benches and seats anchored the experience of the flower plantings in the garden – what a great partnership! Your words have brought back some wonderful memories and your garden looks absolutely lovely.

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    1. Thanks Lynn for adding a lovely comment, sharing your own experience of being in one of those beautiful Jekyll/Lutyens gardens. Congratulations on being such a well-read and discerning gardener!

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