Roadtrip: Women of Gardens

Discover gardens created, designed, planted and preserved by women gardeners from across the UK.

By Google Arts & Culture

1. Fanny Wilkinson - Vauxhall Park

Fanny Rollo Wilkinson (1855 - 1951) was the first woman Professional Landscape Gardener in England and paved the way for women to enter the profession. In 1888,  she was part of the Central Committee of Women’s Suffrage, led by her friend the pioneering Millicent Fawcett.

Her biggest project was Myatt’s Fields in Camberwell - other major sites being Meath Gardens in Tower Hamlets and Vauxhall Park in Lambeth.

Albion SquareMetropolitan Public Gardens Association

A Lasting Legacy

Fanny's output was impressive; as well designing 75 London gardens, she exhibited at the Glasgow Exhibition in 1888, and the Chicago Exhibition in 1893. Her work lives on in numerous parks and gardens across London

Discover more with the Metropolitan Gardens Association

2. Jemima and Amabel Grey - Wrest Park

For nearly 100 years, the gardens at Wrest Park were managed and maintained by two women, Jemima, Marchioness Grey (1723–97) and her daughter Amabel (1751–1833). Their careful management of the garden resulted in the survival of many of the features we see today.

Wrest ParkOriginal Source: Wrest Park

A Visionary Lead

Jemima was tutored in garden design, surveying techniques, geometry and astronomy by the great polymath, Thomas Wright. She had her own vision for their gardens that she put into practice such as creating  a wooden Chinese bridge and temple.

Discover more with English Heritage

3. Lucinda Compton - Newby Hall

Lucinda Compton has overseen change and development in the gardens for the past 20 years, including the redevelopment of the vast double herbaceous border that has been replanted and reinvigorated during Lucinda's time at Newby Hall.

Newby Hall is home to the National Collection of Cornus (dogwood) (2020-06) by Newby HallHistoric Houses

A Balance of Old and New

New additions include Robin's Walk which feature vibrant blue and yellow borders, whereas original features like the Historic Orchards - home to 50 different varieties of apples - remains much the same.

Discover more with Historic Houses

4. Dorothy Wordsworth - Dove Cottage

Dorothy, whose brother was the poet William Wordsworth, was a keen gardener, maintaining the picturesque garden at Dove Cottage. 

Extracts from her journal regularlry describe the plants in the garden and the enjoyment she found in gardening. 

Wild roses at Dove Cottage by Wordsworth GrasmereWordsworth Grasmere

A Peaceful Paradise

Although a regular spot for hosting friends or enjoying a peaceful rest, Dorothy wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty, writing in her journal in March 1802:

'...I sowed French Beans & weeded. A coronetted Landau went by when we were sitting upon the sodded wall. The ladies (evidently Tourists) turned an eye of interest upon our little garden & cottage . . . In the evening I stuck peas, watered the garden & planted Brocoli.'

Discover more with Wordsworth Grasmere

5. Vita Sackville-West - Sissinghurst

Vita helped to transform Sissinghurst into one of the world's most renowned gardens and envisaged the Rose Garden as a 'tumble of roses and honeysuckle, figs and vines'.

The collection of rose varieties at Sissinghurst is extraordinary. Vita focused her collection on species roses and old garden varieties and enlisted the help of rose expert Graham Stuart Thomas to acquire and grow rare examples.

White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent (1986) by Diana Baskervyle-GleggGarden Museum

A Gardening Legacy

In 1955, in recognition of her achievement at Sissinghurst Vita was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Veitch Medal. 

Discover more with The Garden Museum
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