Posted 27 May 2016 by Andrew Gardner
When you're self-catering in Sussex, do hop over the border and visit Gertrude Jekyll's garden at Munstead Wood if you can. The celebrated Edwardian garden designer lived there in a pretty house designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens - which isn't open, but you can admire it from the garden - and the garden is open by arrangement, on weekdays only, so it's perfect for a holiday outing.
It's recently come to light that Jekyll was also a talented photographer - good enough to be taken seriously by an international gallery that specialised in pioneers of the time such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Fox Talbot. The album of her photographs that brought about this new publicity was acquired by the Garden Museum in South London and one of the most surprising things was that it came from a collector of photography rather than a garden historian.
Jekyll the artist, designer and thinker bought a folding camera (yes, really), built a studio at home and set about adding to her already considerable artistic skill-set. Nature is high on her subject list, though gardens are not - surprising on the surface but perhaps not so much, when you think about it. She made the most of what her local area had to offer visually, loving to photograph trees at nearby Busbridge or local farms and buildings. Her work is painterly and her compositions skilful, and it may be no coincidence that artists such as Claude Monet, celebrated for his own garden, would have seen Jekyll's work.
The area of Munstead, Hydestile and Busbridge is a pretty diversion from the open spaces of Sussex, with woodland that includes nearby Winkworth Arboretum and heathland where equestrian events are held at nearby Heath Farm. Best of all, it's only a short drive away if you're taking a holiday in West Sussex or in one of our superb country cottages near the Sussex-Hampshire border. Click here to see our selection.