Munstead Wood

Gertrude Jekyll
by Salma Amanda Latifa

Surrey is an elegant blend of nature and history and is home to several figures who have shaped its cultural legacy. Among them, Gertrude Jekyll stands firm as a pioneer in the art of gardening, making remarkable contributions to Surrey's cultural wealth. Through her skilful fusion of natural elements with aesthetic design, Jekyll transformed Surrey's landscapes into captivating and enchanting spaces.

Gertrude Jekyll was born on November 29, 1843, in London, yet her impressive work in garden art has reached across the globe, where she successfully built and designed several iconic gardens. She created over 400 gardens in England, Europe, and the United States, and a hallmark of her work is the harmonious use of plant colours and textures to create beautiful compositions.

One of Jekyll's most famous gardens is Munstead Wood, located in Surrey. This garden not only embodies her artistic vision but also served as a laboratory where she experimented with various plant species and design techniques. Through Munstead Wood, Jekyll proved that gardens are not just places to rest but also mediums of artistic expression that enrich human experience. However, Jekyll's contributions were not limited to garden design. She was also a craftsperson, photographer, artist, and prolific writer, producing over a hundred articles and books published during her lifetime. Her books, such as Wood and Garden (1899) and Colour in the Flower Garden (1908), have been a source of inspiration for garden enthusiasts worldwide and have helped extend her influence far beyond the Surrey region.

It is undeniable that Surrey's cultural heritage has been deeply influenced by Gertrude Jekyll's work. Besides creating stunning gardens, Jekyll also left behind a legacy of innovative ideas in garden art that continue to influence modern design practices. In commemorating her contributions, many efforts have been made to preserve and maintain the garden heritage she left behind. Every year, thousands of tourists and garden enthusiasts visit the places she once designed, paying homage to a woman known as the first recipient of the Victoria Medal of Honor from the Royal Horticultural Society, the highest award for horticulturists in England.

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