18 May 2014

Visiting Gertrude Jekyll's Home

So, wow.

This week I visited the Godalming home of 
the most famous garden designer of all time,
at least in my mind

- Gertrude Jekyll -
(pronounced GEE-kul)

Not only was she THE garden designer for wealthy Edwardian homeowners,
she was an artist, writer, photographer, and propagator
(1843 - 1932)

Think of the opulent era of the Titanic

Being an artist and photographer,
she came to landscape design with a fresh eye

While formal French and Italian gardens had been in fashion,
she introduced the revolutionary herbaceous border
Americans would describe as 'the English Garden'

She included plants that grow well in England
such as the rose, daylily, foxglove and lavender

She was interested not only in flowers,
but also texture, structure and leaf shapes

A border that is a little bit messy with drifts of flowers,
not tidy or formal at all

 Jekyll also played with color schemes seen in her famous all-white gardens and
all hot and all cool colored borders

Ms Jekyll also came up with the idea of cozy garden 'rooms'
and a peek into another room through a hedge

This tireless woman had a team of workers
help manage and cultivate her 17 acre property

She grew all the plants she installed in her customers' gardens,
so her plantings still grow all over England today

When WWI rolled around,
customers no longer had money to spend on her designs or plants,
her designs grew out of favor, and her workers went off to fight in the war

From donkey carts to potting sheds, Jekyll's house was a working home

Finding herself with a sharp decrease in income,
she did have a bit of luck

Although she never visited America,
a high demand for her services started coming across the pond
which created a resurgence in her business

This is probably why she is the only historical garden designer
I had heard of before I moved here

She left a legacy behind in America with Munstead Lavender 
being one of the most common lavender varieties sold in the US today
It's named after her home, Munstead Wood, 
where she propagated it

After Jekyll died,
her property was divided into five parcels and sold off
Much of it was turfed over, and some transformed into a tennis court

Fortunately the current owners of her home realized the treasure they had
and restored the gardens to their original state,
thanks to the documentation in Jekyll's photographs and plans

Some of the original trees still stand
and the gardens feel original
Ah, such tranquility and beauty

In fact, Jekyll created the gardens before she had the house built
She had a very successful partnership with the famous architect, Edwin Lutyen
He was in great demand for designing country homes
and she designed the gardens for his houses

He designed Munstead Wood too

So amazing to brush against
such a tireless and innovative woman

- photos my own -
Visitor informaton: Lutyens Trust 


ann said...

Now I know who GJ is. I have a David Austin rose named after her, a soft fragrant pink. And a climber , I just discovered . I wondered why she grew so tall. I will miss your trips around the UK. I hope you land in an interesting place and that we continue to hear from you. All of your posts have been fun and interesting.

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

SO lovely! One day I would like to just take a tour of English Gardens.

topchelseagirl said...

Delightful. I love doors in old garden walls - the wonder of what might lie beyond.

Pom Pom said...

Beautiful, Laura! I love seeing the scruffy parts. That's the kind of garden I love.

Sissym Mascarenhas said...


I would be very happy to live in a place like this!


Ida said...

Amazing gardens and woman. I had never heard of her before reading your post. It was a pleasure to read about her work.

Jane said...

The quintessential English kind of garden. I would so love to go there one day, but in the meantime thank you for your wonderful photos of your visit.

beetree said...

Oh, Laura- I will definitely miss the beautiful way you have shown us England, through gorgeous photos and interesting histories. What a wonderful experience your family has had (and all of your readers!)- I know you will have many more adventures ahead!

Linda said...

I enjoyed visiting Gertrude Jekyll's garden and home via your beautiful photos. I love her style and influence on English gardens. It's a lovely time of year to visit country gardens. some of my favourite flowers are in bloom.

Amy at love made my home said...

Lovely to take a tour round the garden and see it through your eyes Laura. Glad that you got to visit this garden. xx

Leanne Paxton said...

I really enjoyed this post. I'd love to visit Ms Jekyll's gardens. The idea of garden rooms is so appealing. I think a garden should be a place to explore, however small.
Leanne xx

Tina in CT said...

My daughter needs to go back and read all your posts since she is moving to London this summer. I would have loved to visit this garden paradise.

lisaroyhandbags said...

What a beautiful tour and interesting bit of history! You have certainly managed to capture the beauty of England - i hope where you're moving to will be equally as lovely. I imagine all of this will be somewhat difficult to leave behind xo

Mandy Southgate said...

Gosh, it looks just lovely there! What a gem of a place and how lovely that the owners restored it. Your photos are really lovely!

I see that you're going home soon! Good luck on the next stage of your adventures.

flowers on my table said...

Laura, thank you once again for being a marvellous tour guide. I see that you will soon be leaving us. I am happy for you to be going home, but shall miss all your wonderful observations. Hopefully you will still blog once you get stateside. I wish you well with all your travelling plans and setting up home. Perhaps you will get those poppies now? Much love to you, Linda x

Melanie said...

Wow, those gardens are amazing. Thanks for the tour!

Sarah Hideaway said...

What a lovely post! Thanks a lot from a gardening enthusiast.

Tammy Chrzan said...

What an amazing garden!! I'm ashamed to say I didn't even know there were famous garden designers!
I seriously love reading blogs... I truly learn so much!
I hope your week is going well, Tammy