Browsing Tag

English Garden

England: Kent + Surrey HISTORY NATURE + GARDENS

Visiting Gertrude Jekyll’s Home

May 18, 2014

So, wow.

This week I visited the Godalming home of

the most famous garden designer of all time,

at least in my mind

– Gertrude Jekyll –

(pronounced GEE-kul)

Visit Gertrude Jekyll’s Munstead Home

Not only was she THE garden designer for wealthy Edwardian homeowners,

she was an artist, writer, photographer, and propagator

(1843 – 1932)

Think of the opulent era of the Titanic

Being an artist and photographer,

she came to landscape design with a fresh eye

While formal French and Italian gardens had been in fashion,

she introduced the revolutionary herbaceous border

Americans would describe as ‘the English Garden’

She included plants that grow well in England

such as the rose, daylily, foxglove and lavender

She was interested not only in flowers,
but also texture, structure and leaf shapes

A border that is a little bit messy with drifts of flowers,

not tidy or formal at all

Uniquely,
Jekyll also played with color schemes seen in her famous all-white gardens and

all hot and all cool colored borders

Ms Jekyll also came up with the idea of cozy garden ‘rooms’

and a peek into another room through a hedge

This tireless woman had a team of workers

help manage and cultivate her 17-acre property

She grew all the plants she installed in her customers’ gardens,

so her plantings still grow all over England today

When WWI rolled around,

customers no longer had money to spend on her designs or plants,

her designs grew out of favor, and her workers went off to fight in the war

From donkey carts to potting sheds, Jekyll’s house was a working home

Finding herself with a sharp decrease in income,

she did have a bit of luck

Although she never visited America,

a high demand for her services started coming across the pond

which created a resurgence in her business

This is probably why she is the only historical garden designer

I had heard of before I moved here

She left a legacy behind in America with Munstead Lavender

being one of the most common lavender varieties sold in the US today

It’s named after her home, Munstead Wood,

where she propagated it

After Jekyll died,

her property was divided into five parcels and sold off

Much of it was turfed over, and some transformed into a tennis court

Fortunately, the current owners of her home realized the treasure they had

and restored the gardens to their original state,

thanks to the documentation in Jekyll’s photographs and plans

Some of the original trees still stand

and the gardens feel original
Ah, such tranquility and beauty

In fact, Jekyll created the gardens before she had the house built

She had a very successful partnership with the famous architect, Edwin Lutyen

He was in great demand for designing country homes
and she designed the gardens for his houses

He designed Munstead Wood too

So amazing to brush against

such a tireless and innovative woman

More English Gardens here

Visitor information: Lutyens Trust 

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DSC02648-014
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