The in­spi­ra­tion H&M’S range isn’t the only treat for fans of Mor­ris – ex­plore his work and gar­dens, too

Curly leaves and spry flow­ers are syn­ony­mous with Wil­liam Mor­ris’s iconic pat­terns. This month, ex­plore his re­la­tion­ship with the land

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Tex­tile de­signer Wil­liam Mor­ris be­lieved that rather than cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral wilder­ness at home, one’s gar­den should be fenced, ‘or­derly and rich’. This month, an ex­hi­bi­tion opens at the Wil­liam Mor­ris Gallery in Waltham­stow, east Lon­don, for which cu­ra­tors have cher­ryp­icked 90 sump­tu­ous de­pic­tions of Bri­tish gar­dens. And just as en­tic­ing is the splen­did Ge­or­gian villa, but­tressed by two softly curved brick tur­rets, in which they’re dis­played, the Mor­ris fam­ily home from 1848 to 1856. The show, ‘The En­chanted Gar­den’ (20 Oc­to­ber–27 Jan­uary 2019; wm­gallery.co.uk), cel­e­brates the af­fec­tion in which 20th-cen­tury artists held the do­mes­tic gar­den. From Monet to Beatrix Pot­ter’s il­lus­tra­tions of the Flopsy Bun­nies in the let­tuce patch and Blooms­bury Group mem­ber Dun­can Grant’s 1929 paint­ing of the view out to the gar­den from Charles­ton House, it’s a blend of charm­ingly ru­ral styles.

To put your­self in Mor­ris’s gar­den­ing shoes, do check out the gallery’s own plot. And, af­ter ad­mir­ing the paint­ing by his daugh­ter, May Mor­ris, of the view of Kelm­scott Manor fea­tured in the ex­hi­bi­tion, why not head off to ex­plore the sub­ject it­self? The fam­ily’s 16th-cen­tury sum­mer home in the pic­turesque Cotswolds, sur­rounded by a dove­cote, meadow, stream and lawns, has re­cently been lov­ingly re­stored. The en­chant­ing site, in a vil­lage that Mor­ris once de­scribed as ‘ heaven on earth’, is open to the pub­lic on Wed­nes­days and Sun­days un­til 29 Oc­to­ber ( kelm­scott.org.uk).

There’s more Mor­ris-re­lated gar­de­na­lia in Kent, at the Red House – the Tu­dor Goth­icin­spired home built for the Mor­ris clan in 1860, which is open to vis­i­tors all year round. Mor­ris cre­ated its com­part­men­talised me­dieval-style gar­den ‘to clothe the house’, and it, in turn, in­flu­enced his first wall­pa­per de­sign, ‘Trel­lis’, in 1862. The grounds are cur­rently be­ing re­stored to their for­mer glory by head gar­dener Robert Smith and team (na­tion­al­trust.org).

Fi­nally, if you’d like to cre­ate an Arts & Crafts patch in your own back yard, what to grow? For a mini or­chard in­spired by the Red House, go for hon­ey­suckle, fruit trees and laven­der; or for an ode to Kelm­scott and the pat­terns its hor­ti­cul­ture in­spired, plant straw­ber­ries, wil­low, hol­ly­hocks and English roses, such as the ‘Sir Ed­ward El­gar’ – all avail­able from the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety (rhs­plants.co.uk).

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