Friday, July 29, 2011

A flower border a la Jekyll

Back in the late 1980's, there was sort of an English invasion, garden-wise, that is.  Lots of people in the U.S. (including me) dreamed of making long sunny flower borders in the style of Gertrude Jekyll (pronounced gee-kel, oddly enough), the English garden designer who worked with the famed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Most of their work was in England, but the pair was commissioned by Guillaume Mallet to build a manor house and accompanying gardens at Varengeville-sur-Mer in Haute Normandie in France in the late 19th Century.  Le Bois des Moutiers is still owned by the Mallet family.

Like most everything in Normandy, the house was heavily damaged in World War II, and the gardens  neglected.  In the 1970's, the house and gardens were restored, keeping much of the influence of Miss Jekyll.  

 The border you see above is very much in the style of Gertrude Jekyll with walls and hedges forming the background and structure.  Flowers flow down to a walkway.  

The Mallets' house was designed so that every room had a view of the garden, and from every place in the garden you had a good view of the house.  This border is one of two flanking the main walkway.

Most of us had to give up on the Jekyll border idea, since such designs are high maintenance and hard to keep going without a staff of gardeners.  However, I still pull out my English garden books and enjoy studying the borders in their heyday.