The UK is famous for its lush and beautiful gardens, but behind every great garden is a talented landscape designer hard at work. Throughout history, the United Kingdom has been the home of some of the world’s most famous landscape designers that have dedicated their lives to creating stunning outdoor spaces for generations of Brits and tourists to enjoy.
In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most famous landscapers in history and the impact their systems and ideas still have on today’s garden landscapers.
Our list of famous landscapers who made their mark on the UK would be incomplete without mentioning the late and great Gertrude Jekyll.
Jekyll was known both for her solo design work and for her partnership with the architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. The pair created over one hundred landscape designs together and laid down a foundation of firm planting and garden design principles that would be used for generations to come.
Jekyll was famous for her enormous herbaceous borders and complementary colour schemes that ran from cold colours (blue and white) to hot colours (red and orange) and back again. Jekyll’s focus on architecture as a garden’s main framework to display certain plantlife is still implemented today and has left a lasting legacy.
Vita Sackville-West was not a gardener by profession. In fact, she was a writer and a poet that had developed a love for gardening after buying the stunning Sissinghurst Castle with her partner in 1930.
Sackville-West spent years transforming the ruined outdoor space into a private and intimate garden that had five separate enclosures; the Nuttery, Cottage Garden, Orchard, Rose Garden and White Garden. After the Second World War, the garden was cleared of debris and opened for visitors, and her experimental and practical approach to gardening caught the interest of the gardening public.
Sackville-West’s principles of ruthlessness and experimentation, allowing self-seeded plants to grow where they fell naturally and mixing cultivated plants with wildflowers, has left a lasting impact on the gardening community and today’s visitors to Sissinghurst.
Any fan of English cottage gardening will likely have heard of Margery Fish. Like many other landscape gardeners, Fish didn’t turn to gardening until later in life, when she coined the concept of a cottage garden.
In her famous book, ‘Cottage Garden Flowers’, she wrote, ‘Nowhere in the world is there anything like the English cottage garden. In every village and hamlet in the land there are these little gardens, always gay and never garish, and so obviously loved.’
Her abundant garden at East Lambrook Manor is a monument to her work and was exceptionally popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s. After two decades of neglect, the garden was once again restored and visitors from all over the world come to marvel at its natural gullies, winding paths and domed Chamaecyparis. Her natural ability and passion for mixing plants in small spaces continue to be an inspiration for gardeners today.
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe
Last but certainly not least is the legendary Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. Jellicoe was one of the most famous landscape artists of the 20th century and had a career that lasted almost 70 years.
Despite being a town planner and trained architect, Jellicoe’s passion lay in landscape and garden design, having described it as ‘the mother of all arts’. Some of his most famous projects include the Kennedy memorial at Runneymede, Cheddar Gorge and even a garden at the Royal Family’s residence at Sandringham House.
Water features were a staple in many of Jellicoe’s designs; from rushing waterfalls to reflective and still ponds that added a layer of dimension to all of his projects. Jellicoe’s fusion of modern and classical designs, along with his appreciation for the importance of totality has made him one of the most influential landscape designers of the age.
If our list of some of history’s greatest landscape designers has inspired you, and you would like to find a modern day version, then it could well be worth checking out Walsh Landscaping and see just how they can give your outdoor space that new lease of life.