|"Miss Gertrude Jekyll digging up early carrots" by Greg Becker|
you can find a lot of other lovely illustrations...
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A pioneer of the informal garden design inspired by nature, Gertrude Jekyll is surely known by all of you living in English-speaking countries. I wanted, nevertheless, to pay a small tribute to a great gardener that I think would deserve to be more known elsewhere too.
Jekyll (1843–1932) was a garden designer, painter, and writer. Even though an "amateur" (at that time there wasn't professional formation in horticulture available for women), she was one of the major figures in English garden design and shared her large practical experience through her books and articles, written in her pleasant, unpretentious style. In 1932, The Times wrote:
She was a great gardener, second only, if indeed she was second, to her friend William Robinson. [...] To these two, more than to any others, are due, not only the complete transformation of English horticultural method and design, but also that wide diffusion of knowledge and taste which has made us almost a nation of gardeners.
Jekyll at Munstead Wood in 1918, photographed by Country Life gardens editor Herbert Cowley:
Manuals and handbooks written by Jekyll are still reprinted and widely read. In 2011 Cambridge University Press published a digital reprint of the original edition of her first book, Wood and Garden of 1899. According to the editor’s introduction, the CUP Cambridge Library Collection reissues out-of-print titles that are still sought after “either for the source material they contain or as landmarks in the history of their academic discipline”.
Jekyll, G. 2011 (1899). Wood and Garden. Notes and Thoughts, Practical and Critical, of a Working Amateur. Cambridge: Cambridge Library Collection:
In her charming book, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers presents some of the greatest amateur landscape gardeners whose work has also a considerable literary quality. Gertrude Jekyll figures in the book among names such as Rousseau, Thoreau, and Thomas Jefferson.
Rogers, E. B. 2012 (2011). Writing the Garden. A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries. Jaffrey, NH: David R. Godine Publisher:
Unfortunately, only few of the gardens designed by Jekyll survive in any recognizable form today. Her ideas about garden design, however, live on in numerous books and articles she published. Judith B. Tankard demonstrates, with fascinating photographs from the archives of Country Life, why Jekyll, her own garden of Munstead Wood in Surrey, and her writings continue to inspire designers and gardeners even today.
Without doubt, she also was an encouraging example to the women of her time. In her fifties, she started a new career, not common for her gender, and gained nationwide and international recognition for her work. In 1897, when the Royal Horticultural Society inaugurated the Victoria Medal of Honour in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, among the sixty awarded there were two women, Gertrude Jekyll and Ellen Willmott.
Tankard, J. B. 2011. Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden. London: Aurum Press:
Happy Mosaic Monday! Check out Judith's beautiful blog and the other participants!
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And, last but not least... wishing you a happy birthday, D!