GERTRUDE JEKYLL

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Dig In Plantsman’s Favourites -

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was one of the most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures in what has been called the Golden Age of gar­den­ing in Bri­tain. By the time she met Lu­tyens she had al­ready been work­ing for sev­eral years on her own gar­den at Mun­stead Wood, 15 acres of Sur­rey heath and bracken that she grad­u­ally trans­formed into a se­ries of sea­sonal gar­dens. There were pe­onies, Michael­mas daisies, a rock gar­den, a spring gar­den and the fa­mous herba­ceous bor­der, 60 me­tres of it, backed by a high sand­stone wall. Here she worked out her the­o­ries on colour and rules for plant­ing schemes that are per­haps even bet­ter known now than when she was alive. Jekyll’s colour schemes were built round a care­ful crescendo of ef­fect, work­ing from whites and pale greys and blues at the edges, through pinks and pale yel­low to a cen­tral ex­plo­sion of hot orange, red and scar­let. She liked to plant white tulips so they rose from a car­pet of grey stachys. Gyp­sophila was en­cour­aged to fall for­ward in a lacy veil over an edg­ing of fat berge­nias. In a ca­reer span­ning 50 years, she made plans for more than 400 gar­dens, wrote 14 books, and ran a nurs­ery (in her plans she only spec­i­fied plants she could also sell). How did she do it all? ‘By not go­ing to tea par­ties’ was her tren­chant re­ply.

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