William Robinson, The English Flower Garden
Chapter I & Chapter V
Gertrude Jekyll, Colour In The Flower Garden
William Robinson was an influential garden writer of the late Victorian age whose books (and articles in his own magazine publication, The Garden) contributed greatly to the demise of the “carpet bedding” style of gardening that was prevalent at that time. He was very opinionated and none too diplomatic in his denunciation of Victorian taste, but there is no denying that he was successful, at least in private gardens. It is often considered that municipal planting in parks and other public places continues the “bedding out” style and any nurseryman can tell you that annuals sell like hotcakes every spring but Robinson’s vision of shrubs, bulbs and perennials (both native and those brought by the plant collectors) growing in a natural condition became the accepted style for English gardens. It is a style that prevails to this day.
Gertrude Jekyll was writing articles for The Garden and also contributing chapters to The English Flower Garden and she reflected Robinson’s taste in garden style, and in a much more diplomatic and persuasive manner than he did. Jekyll went on to publish many garden design books of her own and has been hailed as the greatest influence on modern British gardens – an accolade that could likely be shared by both.
Excerpted here are a few of the early chapters from Robinson’s influential book and a later chapter, written by Jekyll, outlining some of her principles for colour in the garden.