Who was Gertrude Jekyll?

January 14, 2022 10:56 am


When you go out into a garden in Britain, it’s very likely that it was probably influenced by Gertrude Jekyll if not designed by her. Jekyll was a proficient designer and visionary for garden design, and her many year’s of experience is seen in 400 gardens and in 1000 written examples of how to do it. Her work is throughout Britain and North America, where she had a significant influence. Where did this lifelong spinster come from, and what gave her her inspiration? One thing that Jekyll was keen on was a decent looking lawn. She would have approved the use of Mountfield Parts from  www.diyspareparts.com/parts/mountfield/ to keep yours up to date.

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Jekyll was born in the middle of the 19th Century, a time when the Victorian Empire helped dominate most of the world, and the ideas of Britain were foremost. She was born in West London, the 5th child of 7, and her father was a military man. The family soon moved out of the city and to the picturesque South Downs in Surrey. Whether these rolling hills and landscapes were an influence is not documented, but it would be hard not to believe that the young Gertrude did not get some inspiration from the rural landscape.

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As she grew up, she was aware of the changing nature of Britain, becoming more and more urban and more industrialised. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and the mechanisation of jobs and working habits meant that rural life was receding. Jekyll, along with others, began to form the Arts and Crafts Movement to try to stop this loss. Along with architect Edwin Lutyens, Painter J M W Turner, designer William Morris and writer Beatrix Potter, she helped form the National Trust, an organisation devoted to preserving the wild and the formal landscapes not just in stately homes but the wider countryside as well.

Jekyll and Lutyens were quite the team, although only ever friends. When Lutyens was brought in to design property, it was to Jekyll he would turn to for the garden’s design. One of their most outstanding examples is that of Hestercombe Garden. The Somerset pile has many wanderings, follies, and paths influenced by the great Lancelot Brown. However, unlike Brown, Jekyll was partial to including the formal element as well. This is also a feature of Hestercombe, where the two combine beautifully.

By her passing in 1932, she had also written several books on plant and garden theory. This also included advice and musing on using colour in a garden. Throughout Britain and Europe, many grand homes and public works had approached the tremendous visionary to come and design them something special, a task at which she never failed to do.