Photo: Neil Kennedy
A Flower Gardening Icon
January, when gardeners in cold climates are forced to remain indoors, is a month for flower lovers to enjoy reading books about flowers and gardening. In your reading, it is likely you have come across the name Gertrude Jekyll. Jekyll was a British expert on herbaceous borders. She was trained as an impressionist and watercolor painter, a skill that shaped her ability to combine colors and shapes. She was also good at placing plants to beautify awkward locations.
Unity And Detail: Jekyllian Principles
Jekyll was born in London in 1843 and when she died in 1932, she had consulted on the design of about 350 gardens. She showed how to use old fashioned and native perennial plants and how effectively these could be combined. She advocated that all areas of a garden should be unified–the shapes of the plantings must harmonize with the architecture of the home and other garden elements. Unity was a Jekyllian principle.
She paid careful attention to every detail — her long borders flowed from massed flowers of cool colors to waves of warm and then hot colors. She believed three plants together were always preferable to only one and she used silvery gray foliage to soften the overall effect of her sumptuous flower beds. Miss Jekyll, as she was affectionately called by everyone, was a prolific garden writer, and she has influenced flower gardeners for generations, on both sides of the Atlantic.