Gertrude Jekyll and Hestercombe
Gertrude Jekyll was a multi-talented artist, craftswoman, writer, nurserywoman and garden designer. As an artist she had a good understanding of colour theory, grouping plants in drifts of colours, carefully blending colours and planting diagonal swathes of perennials with complementary colour combinations. She established a plant nursery at her home Munstead Wood, Surrey (Registered Grade I), where she selected and bred plants.
The profession of garden design in the early 20th century was only just becoming established. Through her design consultancy and nursery, she helped transform garden design into a profession for women. She was one of the most influential gardening figures of her age writing many books and articles in the gardening journals and the Daily Mail and Daily Express.
Gertrude was the first woman to be awarded in 1897 the Victoria Medal of Honour of the Royal Horticultural Society, the highest award for British horticulturists.
Thirty-two of her gardens are registered including those she carried out in partnership with Edwin Lutyens at Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland (Registered Grade II), 100 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea (Registered Grade II) and Castle Drogo overlooking Dartmoor in Devon (Registered Grade II*).
Hestercombe garden was also one of Gertrude's commissions with Lutyens. In 1904-8 he designed new gardens to the south of the house providing the detailed layout and she supplied the planting plans, enhancing, enriching and complementing his 'hard' landscaping and his intended views.
The principal feature is the Great Plat, a large, sunken garden with stone quadrant steps at each corner leading down into the garden. Geometric-shaped panels of lawn enclosed by stone flags extend diagonally across the garden from each corner, meeting at a central sundial. Beds are planted with gladioli and delphiniums. On either side of the lawns are stone-lined rills with three pairs of small circular pools planted around with white calla lilies. The pools are of varied depths to accommodate different water plant species. The rills discharge down small stepped cascades into tanks adorned with erigeron.
A pergola planted with roses and clematis encloses the south side of the Great Plat. It contains a stone-flagged walk and gives views north across the gardens to the house, and over the park to the countryside.
To the east is the Dutch Garden, planted according to Gertrude's plan of 1907, with roses, catmint, Santolina, Yucca, lavender and edgings of grey Stachys or lambs' ears.