Who was Gertrude Jekyll?

From Trevor Nottle

Who was Gertrude Jekyll? It’s as well we’ve come to the last great lady gardener before you get bored with an overload of garden history and grand-dames far removed from our modern lives. Aristocracy, gentility and even women-gardeners are all just a tad dated nowadays. Aristocracy and gentility are of no significance at all and women-gardeners are nothing new but we should not overlook Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932).

She was principally known as the associate of Edwin Lutyens,an up-and-coming architect who found in her gardening style an agreeable foil to his great country houses for the rich and fashionable. But Gertrude Jekyll was well established as a garden designer before she met Lutyens. She wrote many books on the subject, published by ‘Country Life’ and illustrated with her own excellent photographs. While her designs depended for their execution and maintenance on the work of professional gardeners she is known mainly for her ‘colourist’ ideas in which plants were very carefully chosen to blend into a set colour palette. She was a skilled water-colourist too. Her planting schemes, particularly for Lutyens clients, were deployed to soften the heavily architectural manner in which he extended his buildings into the landscape with inter-linking stone terraces, steps, stairs, water features, balustrades and pergolas.

Nowadays few of us have garden staff, and not many build large country houses with big gardens but the ideas about colour expressed by Gertrude Jekyll still exert a considerable influence in many small gardens. And this is why Gertrude Jekyll remains important to gardeners of today. She led the way for VS-W and Edna Walling, Rosemary Verey, the Viscountess of Salisbury and all the other fans of the English Flower Garden School.

Google: ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, ‘English Flower Garden’, ‘Surrey School’.