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  • Writer's pictureMarie

Gertrude Jekyll's Holy Island Garden in Northumberland

This walled garden on the Northumbrian Island of Lindisfarne (or Holy Island), is the National Trust’s smallest garden at 1/8th of an acre. It's comparable in size to many ordinary suburban gardens and was created on the site of the old kitchen garden near Lindisfarne castle by Gertrude Jekyll. As I was on holiday in Northumberland, a boat visit to the island was planned and I walked out to see the garden from the castle.

Gertrude Jekyll was a 20th-century designer who's gardens and borders who favoured more naturalistic planting compared to the formal gardens which had dominated up until the Victorian era. Her aesthetic is essentially what we think of as a typical English cottage garden. Appreciating nature, simplicity and beauty were hallmarks of the Arts and Crafts movement with which she was associated and she collaborated with other leaders of the movement.

There are some really interesting old plant varieties in the garden including the cordon apple trees trained up the wall. The National Trust has done a great job of tracing all the original varieties used in the garden on its creation in 1911, in order to restore it, which was done in 2003.

There were masses of pink sweet peas in the garden, bright pink cosmos, marmalade orange rudbeckias amongst darker reds, acid yellows and silvery foliage. The effect is like an impressionist painting. It’s just a pity the sky was quite overcast the day I visited and the photos don’t quite do the colours justice! The garden is an intriguing little patch of cultivated plant-life and colour dropped into the rugged, windswept landscape of Holy Island. It’s well worth a visit.

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