The high art of garden design has come to a browser tab near you.
Today Google.com users in the US, Canada, UK, Peru, Argentina, and a handful of other countries, will see a “doodle” that honors famed British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. Jekyll, born 147 years ago today, created 400 gardens in Europe and the US. She died in 1932.
Jekyll was a major force in 19th-century British landscape architecture. She was inspired by landscape designer William Robinson, who, according to historian Judith B. Tankard, broke away from rigid, ceremonial garden forms by embracing hardy, native plants. Jekyll favored simpler, softer designs with accessible, local plants over elaborate, smothering gardens.
Though Jekyll was described as no-nonsense, she designed landscapes to be beautiful and colorful. She was known for her large herbaceous border, one in particular that she designed in 1895 for her own house, Munstead Wood, in Surrey. It was 180 feet long and 14 feet wide, and was meticulously planned to accommodate different blooms from June to October. Jekyll wrote of her plan for the border, whose colors were coolest on the outside and warmest in the middle:
The border has a definite colour scheme; at the two ends blue, white and palest yellow, with grey foliage; and purple, white and pink, also with grey foliage, respectively; the colour then advancing from both ends by yellow and orange to the middle glory of the strongest reds.
Jekyll initially studied painting and was enamored with John Ruskin and J. M. W. Turner, who both created soft, hazy landscapes. Jekyll was also a skilled craftsman, carpenter, embroiderer, and jewelry maker.