ALMOST HOME. The Public Landscape of Gertrude Jekyll
di Kristine F. Miller
Gertrude Jekyll, the esteemed British horticulturist, garden designer and writer, is lauded by many as a premier influence in landscape design. Her concept of the English garden symbolises “Englishness” in many ways. Although numerous private commissions have been analysed by critics, ‘Almost Home’ is the first book to address her public works. These exist across a diverse range of projects, demonstrating how her refined concepts could be deployed in the areas of health, memorial and tribute. Included are previously unpublished drawings, plus discussions of collaborations with architects such as Edwin Lutyens, Herbert Baker and Charles Holden.
The perennial borders and woodland gardens Gertrude Jekyll designed for the estates of monied clients continue to inspire designers, historians, and enthusiasts today, as do her writings on the seasonal qualities of gardens. While numerous biographers, garden historians, and critics have described and analyzed Jekyll’s private commissions, her public work has received little attention. Almost Home is the first book to address these projects by one of the world’s most recognized and celebrated English garden designers. Given the number of private gardens she created, the range of Jekyll’s public projects is quite surprising--from a tuberculosis sanatorium to a village memorial for the radio operator of the Titanic to seven British war cemeteries in northern France. Perhaps even more than do her private landscapes, Jekyll’s public designs reveal the garden’s function as a symbol of complex themes and as an inspiration for complex emotions. They show how Jekyll’s concept of the English landscape and Englishness, which she refined and promulgated in her writing and photography, could be deployed not only within the realm of everyday upper-class life, but as part of the language of health, memorial, and tribute. This book will appeal to landscape, garden, and architectural historians for its new information, never-before-published original drawings, and details about Jekyll’s collaboration with noted architects such as Herbert Baker, Charles Holden, and her fellow Arts and Crafts proponent, Edwin Lutyens.