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The Grand Teacher

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

“There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight” - Gertrude Jekyll.

In 2016 I was fortunate enough to go to an exhibition at the Royal Academy called 'Painting the Modern Garden'. I had gone there especially to see Monet's 'Water Lilies' but the picture that made me smile the most was Sir William Nicholson's painting 'Miss Jekyll's Gardening Boots'. Gertrude Jekyll had a limited involvement with the design of the gardens of Castle Drogo in that she designed of the borders of the driveway up to the castle. The design mirrored the driveway at her home, Munstead Wood. Her involvement in the gardens of the castle was, however, limited and the main gardens were designed by George Dillistone. The story behind the painting is that when Gertrude Jekyll was seventy-six, and quite difficult, she agreed to sit for Nicholson. Nicholson arrived and had to wait for Miss Jekyll, as she would only sit in the afternoon. He therefore took the opportunity of painting her boots as he waited . The painting is dedicated 'For E.L.', and was a gift to Edwin Lutyens. The portrait of Gertrude Jekyll is at the National Portrait Gallery.

The above picture is licenced from the Tate Gallery under Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported). - Sir William Nicholson 'Miss Jekyll's Gardening Boots' 1920. Photo © Tate

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