A major figure in the development of garden design, Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) did not set out to make gardening her career. In her late teens she had enrolled as a student at the Kensington School of Art, a bold step for a young lady in mid Victorian times. Her deteriorating eyesight compelled her to abandon almost entirely her favourite occupations of painting and embroidery. She had always loved flowers, and friendship with gardening neighbours had encouraged her interest. A meeting with the young architect, Edwin Lutyens, led to his designing a house for her at Munstead Wood near Godalming in Surrey, and to a fruitful partnership in which Miss Jekyll planned the gardens of houses built by Lutyens. Her great contribution to horticulture was that she translated gardening into terms of painting in her use of colour and of light and shade. She brought to garden design an artist's good taste, a knowledge of rural tradition and a respect for craftsmanship, especially the architect's craft, which so marks her work with Lutyens.
About the author
Betty Massingham, a horticultural researcher and journalist, was the author of a full-length biography of Gertude Jekyll.