Munstead Wood, prototype of classic English garden, saved for nation

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A plot created by the pioneering horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll that was the prototype of the modern English plot has been saved for the federation by the National Trust.

Munstead Wood adjacent Godalming, Surrey, Jekyll’s location and plot until her decease successful 1932, was acquired by the spot done a backstage merchantability with enactment from the authorities “in bid to unafraid it for nationalist enjoyment and benefit”, the NT said.

The 11-acre plot volition present beryllium assessed by NT experts earlier a programme of restoration of the grounds and location begins. It is not expected to unfastened to the nationalist for astatine slightest a year.

A presumption    done  into Munstead Wood’s summertime  plot  from the herbaceous border, with cream, lilac and violet blooms surrounding a weathered chromatic  archway.
A presumption done into Munstead Wood’s summertime plot from the herbaceous border. Photograph: Megan Taylor/National Trust

Munstead Wood was described arsenic a “horticultural gem” surrounding an Arts and Crafts location designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Andy Jasper, the NT’s caput of gardens and parklands, said it was a “delicate and enchanting abstraction – a beauteous Lutyens gathering surrounded by astonishing architecture”.

Speaking from Munstead Wood, helium said: “The prima is reflecting connected rhododendrons successful afloat bloom and azaleas that are a cardinal diagnostic of this garden. The aerial is heavy with their scent. I’ve conscionable watched a fox locomotion successful beforehand of me.”

Jekyll moved to Munstead Wood successful the 1890s, opening enactment connected the gardens earlier embarking connected the house. She ran a plot centre determination and bred galore caller plants.

She became 1 of the astir influential plot designers and transformed horticultural practice, collecting plants successful Britain and Europe and introducing astatine slightest 30 caller varieties into British gardens.

Jekyll created astir 400 gardens successful the UK, Europe and America, collaborating with Lutyens connected galore projects. She wrote galore books, and contributed much than 1,000 articles to Country Life, the Garden and different magazines, and was besides a talented painter, lensman and craftswoman

She was the archetypal pistillate to beryllium awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour – the highest grant for British horticulturists.

A photograph   of a coating  of Gertrude Jekyll by William Nicholson, successful  which she sits successful  precocious   property  with her hands held together
A photograph of a coating of Gertrude Jekyll by William Nicholson. Photograph: National Trust

“Before Jekyll, precocious Victorian gardens were formal, astir regimented places,” said Jasper. “Jekyll started utilizing plants similar a creator would usage a palette of lipid paints. You commencement to spot a consciousness of theatre and showmanship and delight.”

She created areas “like a bid of rooms” to angiosperm successful antithetic seasons, “so determination was ever thing to see. She truly played with colour. She utilized precise strong, agleam colours successful the foreground, and past much muted shades astatine the rear, to make a benignant of foreshortening truthful you ideate the borders were overmuch deeper than they were.”

Some of Jekyll’s archetypal planting survives astatine Munstead Wood, peculiarly successful the woodland plot wherever her attack to creator “wild gardening” is evident.

The ceremonial paths, walls and pond adjacent the location stay intact, and Jekyll’s innovative stone plot was precocious rediscovered buried nether layers of plot debris.

In the 1950s the plot was simplified, but aboriginal owners of the spot restored Jekyll’s plan and planting. The NT’s restoration task volition beryllium based connected surviving documentary evidence, including photographs, planting plans, paintings and written descriptions.

Munstead Wood’s northbound  courtyard, wherever  curved ceremonial  hedgerow echoes the woody  inlays of the walls of the house.
Munstead Wood’s northbound courtyard. Photograph: Megan Taylor/National Trust

Jasper said Munstead Wood was “not lone a uncommon surviving illustration of Jekyll’s work, it is besides the plot wherever she developed and intelligibly expressed her ideas, and the birthplace of her affluent collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

“It was the root of the planting experiments she described successful her writing, the hub of her plot plan and nursery concern and had a immense power connected plot plan and planting not conscionable successful Britain but internationally.”

The plot showcased “Jekyll’s signature naturalistic design, her bold usage of colour and innovative usage of mundane plants. There is nary greater illustration of a classical English garden.”

Hilary McGrady, the NT’s manager general, said: “The endurance of some location and plot offers an bonzer accidental to archer the communicative of the location and garden, and Jekyll’s tremendous impact, inspiring a caller procreation of gardeners and quality lovers. It’s hard to overstate the value of this seminal garden.”

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