Hestercombe near Taunton in Somerset was designed by Gertrude Jekyll & Edwin Lutyens in the first decade of the 20th century. Here they combined Lutyens’ formal architectural layouts with Jekyll’s naturalistic planting schemes. Jekyll set flowers in irregular drifts and in the nooks and crannies of the walls, so that nature seemed to reclaim the man-made structures, creating the perfect balance between the two.
Hestercombe was Jekyll’s and Lutyens’ masterpiece and is now considered to be the epitome of the English garden, evoking an era of timeless aristocratic stability. The reality, however, was rather different. It was built at a time when the power of the nobility was declining and many of the great country houses were being sold off.
This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History by Andrea Wulf and Emma Gieben-Gamal is published by Little Brown, price £20. ISBN 0-316-72580-3
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