Watch this great Gardener's Garden video
Does Munstead Wood head gardener Annabel Watts have the best job in the world? Watch our video and decide
We've brought you a few stories from our launch of The Gardener's Garden book at Munstead Wood a couple of weeks back. While we were there we shot this beautiful video with the head gardener, Annabel Watts, who gave up her career as a city PA to carry on Munstead Wood creator Gertrude Jekyll's horticultural legacy. Jekyll, as you may already know from our stories, was an incredible force of nature. Not only did she cultivate, plant and experiment with wildly varying types of plantlife, she photographed the results, printing the photographs herself at her darkroom at Munstead Wood. She also blew the glass for the vases she exhibited the flowers in, forged her own special gardening tools in her personal smithy and campaigned for women artists to be allowed into the Royal Academy.
Annabel described her as having "quite an eye for the choice of plants she used. Not only was she using humble cottage garden plants that she saw in the gardens of cottages in Godalming and the surrounding area, but also she was using exotic plants that she’d seen on her travels to Algeria, the Mediterranean and Switzerland. So she had spiky plants next door to soft cottage garden plants." It’s this sort of contrast that was really quite something in the 1880s when Jekyll created her garden at Munstead and one of the things our amazing video below really brings to life.
As you can see from the video, the gardens at Munstead Wood are extensive. We wondered how strategic Annabel had to be in managing a garden this size, after all, it looks like quite a mental juggling act.
"When people people say that I feel incredibly guilty because I don’t feel that daunted at all," she told us. "Everything is so well established it pretty much looks after itself. It's just general maintenance, like removing all the bracken when I’ve got a moment, and tidying up and they do need pruning and cutting into shape as well. It’s been here for a hundred years, so why should it suddenly die now!" (We think after you've watched the video above you'll agree she was being more than a little self-effacing).
Incidentally, Gertrude Jekyll's Munstead Wood is just one of over 250 permanent gardens created by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, from the 14th century to the present day featured in the The Gardener's Garden. The book is a great resource for those seeking inspiration on garden design and planting and covers all key types of garden with images, text and key information for each of the featured gardens. It truly is a book that will appeal to amateur and professional garden designers alike and you'll find it in the store here.