Rosa Gertrude Jekyll: The Queen of English Garden Design

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll, often referred to as Gertrude Jekyll, was born on November 29, 1843, in London, England. She was the fifth of seven children in the Jekyll family. Her father, Captain Edward Joseph Hill Jekyll, was a retired officer of the East India Company, and her mother, Julia Hammersley, was a talented amateur watercolorist. Jekyll’s early exposure to her mother’s artistic pursuits had a profound influence on her own artistic development.

Jekyll was educated at home by governesses and tutors, and she showed an early interest in the natural world and gardening. She spent much of her childhood exploring the countryside around her family’s home in Bramley, Surrey, where she developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the English landscape. Her love for gardening and nature continued to grow as she spent time in the family garden, learning about plants and experimenting with different designs. This early exposure to gardening would later become the foundation for her career as a garden designer and writer.

Key Takeaways

  • Rosa Gertrude Jekyll was born in London in 1843 and was educated at home by her parents, who encouraged her interest in gardening and botany.
  • Jekyll’s garden designs were influenced by the naturalistic style of William Robinson and the formal gardens of Gertrude Jekyll, and she drew inspiration from the English countryside and traditional cottage gardens.
  • Jekyll’s contribution to the Arts and Crafts Movement was significant, as she emphasized the use of natural materials and the integration of architecture and garden design.
  • Notable gardens designed by Jekyll include Munstead Wood, Hestercombe, and Upton Grey, which showcased her innovative use of color, texture, and plant combinations.
  • Jekyll wrote several influential books and articles on garden design, including “Wood and Garden” and “Colour in the Flower Garden,” which continue to inspire gardeners and landscape designers today.
  • Jekyll’s legacy and impact on garden design can be seen in her enduring influence on the naturalistic and informal garden style, as well as her advocacy for the use of native plants and the integration of architecture and landscape.
  • Jekyll received numerous honors and recognition for her contributions to garden design, including being made a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and receiving the Victoria Medal of Honour.

Influences and Inspiration in Jekyll’s Garden Design

Jekyll’s approach to garden design was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized the importance of craftsmanship, simplicity, and the use of natural materials. She was also inspired by the work of William Robinson, a prominent figure in the gardening world who advocated for a more naturalistic style of gardening. Robinson’s ideas about using native plants and creating gardens that reflected the local landscape resonated with Jekyll, and she incorporated these principles into her own designs.

In addition to Robinson, Jekyll was influenced by the work of other garden designers and horticulturists, including John Ruskin and William Morris. Ruskin’s writings on the connection between art and nature resonated with Jekyll, and she sought to create gardens that were not only beautiful but also harmonious with their surroundings. Morris, a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, inspired Jekyll with his emphasis on traditional craftsmanship and the use of natural materials. These influences shaped Jekyll’s approach to garden design, leading her to create gardens that were both aesthetically pleasing and in harmony with the natural environment.

Jekyll’s Contribution to the Arts and Crafts Movement

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll made significant contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement through her innovative approach to garden design. The movement, which emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction against industrialization and mass production, emphasized the value of traditional craftsmanship and the use of natural materials. Jekyll’s gardens embodied these principles, as she sought to create spaces that were both beautiful and functional, using local materials and native plants to achieve a naturalistic aesthetic.

Jekyll’s work also reflected the movement’s emphasis on simplicity and authenticity. She believed that gardens should be designed to complement their surroundings, rather than imposing a rigid structure on the landscape. Her use of informal planting schemes and naturalistic layouts was a departure from the formal, symmetrical gardens that were popular at the time, and it helped to redefine the concept of garden design. Jekyll’s gardens were celebrated for their ability to evoke a sense of tranquility and harmony, reflecting the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Notable Gardens Designed by Rosa Gertrude Jekyll

Garden Name Location Year Designed
Munstead Wood Surrey, England 1896
Hestercombe Gardens Somerset, England 1904
Lindisfarne Castle Northumberland, England 1911

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll’s influence on garden design can be seen in numerous notable gardens that she designed throughout her career. One of her most famous creations is the garden at Munstead Wood, her home in Surrey. This garden served as a testing ground for many of Jekyll’s ideas and innovations, and it became a showcase for her distinctive style. The garden at Munstead Wood featured a mix of formal and informal planting areas, with carefully curated plant combinations that created a sense of natural beauty.

Another notable garden designed by Jekyll is Hestercombe, located in Somerset, England. Jekyll collaborated with architect Edwin Lutyens to create a series of interconnected outdoor rooms that showcased her talent for combining architecture and horticulture. The result was a stunning example of Jekyll’s ability to create harmonious spaces that seamlessly integrated with their surroundings.

In addition to these gardens, Jekyll also designed numerous private gardens for clients throughout England and Europe. Her work had a lasting impact on the field of garden design, influencing generations of designers and shaping the way we think about gardens today.

Jekyll’s Writing and Publications on Garden Design

In addition to her work as a garden designer, Rosa Gertrude Jekyll was also a prolific writer and published several influential books on gardening. Her writing played a significant role in popularizing her ideas about garden design and helped to establish her as a leading authority in the field.

One of Jekyll’s most famous works is “Wood and Garden,” published in 1899. In this book, she explored the relationship between architecture and gardening, emphasizing the importance of creating gardens that were in harmony with their surroundings. She also discussed practical aspects of gardening, such as plant selection and garden maintenance, making her ideas accessible to a wide audience.

Jekyll’s writing was characterized by its clarity and accessibility, making it appealing to both amateur gardeners and professionals. Her books were widely read and admired for their insightful observations and practical advice, cementing her reputation as a pioneering figure in garden design.

Legacy and Impact of Rosa Gertrude Jekyll’s Work

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll’s legacy as a garden designer and writer continues to have a lasting impact on the field of horticulture. Her innovative approach to garden design, which emphasized naturalistic planting schemes and harmonious layouts, has influenced generations of designers and shaped the way we think about gardens today.

Jekyll’s work also helped to elevate gardening to an art form, demonstrating that gardens could be both beautiful and functional. Her emphasis on using native plants and creating gardens that reflected their natural surroundings has had a lasting impact on the way we approach landscape design, inspiring a renewed interest in sustainable gardening practices.

In addition to her contributions to garden design, Jekyll’s writing has played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of horticulture. Her books continue to be studied and admired for their timeless insights into the art of gardening, making her an enduring figure in the world of horticulture.

Honors and Recognition Received by Rosa Gertrude Jekyll

Throughout her career, Rosa Gertrude Jekyll received numerous honors and recognition for her contributions to garden design and horticulture. In 1897, she became one of the first women to be awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in horticulture.

Jekyll’s work also earned her international acclaim, leading to invitations to design gardens in Europe and North America. Her influence extended beyond her native England, as she shared her innovative ideas with audiences around the world.

In 1929, Jekyll was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to horticulture. This prestigious honor reflected her significant impact on the field of garden design and solidified her reputation as one of the most influential figures in horticulture.

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll’s contributions to garden design continue to be celebrated today, as her work remains an enduring source of inspiration for designers and enthusiasts alike. Her legacy as a pioneering figure in horticulture is firmly established, ensuring that her influence will be felt for generations to come.

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll was a renowned British horticulturist and garden designer known for her influential work in the early 20th century. Her expertise in creating beautiful and functional gardens has inspired many modern gardeners. If you’re looking to channel your inner Jekyll and improve your gardening skills, you might find some helpful tips in this article on trowel hacks. This website offers a wealth of information and resources for gardening enthusiasts, so you can learn how to transform your outdoor spaces with the same passion and creativity as Jekyll.


What is Rosa Gertrude Jekyll?

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll is a type of rose that was named after the famous British horticulturist and garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll. It is a popular and highly regarded rose variety known for its beautiful, fragrant blooms.

What are the characteristics of Rosa Gertrude Jekyll?

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll is a shrub rose that typically grows to a height of 4 to 5 feet. It produces large, double, deep pink flowers with a strong, old rose fragrance. The plant is known for its disease resistance and repeat blooming throughout the growing season.

How do you care for Rosa Gertrude Jekyll?

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll requires full sun and well-drained soil. Regular watering and fertilizing are important for healthy growth and abundant flowering. Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring to remove dead or damaged wood and encourage new growth.

Where can I plant Rosa Gertrude Jekyll?

Rosa Gertrude Jekyll is suitable for planting in garden beds, borders, and containers. It can also be used as a cut flower for floral arrangements. This rose variety thrives in a variety of climates and is well-suited for both formal and informal garden settings.

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