Garden History: Gertrude Jekyll
Photographs: © Country Life Picture Library, from Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden by Judith B. Tankard, Rizzoli New York, 2011.
British horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) once wrote, "The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives." A prolific and innovative gardener, Jekyll designed over 400 landscapes and wrote more than 1,000 articles sharing her remarkable expertise. Noted for her contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement, Jekyll designed naturalistic gardens inspired by Impressionism; her work marked an important turning point from rigid, Victorian styles.
A many-talented individual, Jekyll was also an accomplished artist, writer, and craftswoman. Her most enduring works, however, are her gardens. She created some of her best-known landscapes in partnership with acclaimed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Her work brought light and vigor to Lutyens' English country homes; their most famous collaborations include the classically-inspired Hestercombe Gardens, the innovative outdoor "rooms" of Folly Farm, and the marriage of architecture and plants at The Deanery. All of her gardens display her love for color and the flora of her native Surrey. She supplied many plants for her designs from the nursery at Munstead Wood, her personal estate in southeast England.
Finally, Jekyll was a champion of garden appreciation; she believed that practical skill was best paired with the quiet study of plants. She wrote, "A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust." This spring, we're celebrating Jekyll's influential designs and garden wisdom in a new collection of outdoor furniture.