Travel, Arts and Crafts
For the next decade, she pursued an active social and creative life. With her younger brother, Herbert, who was a military engineer and civil servant, as well as a co-founder of the Bach Choir, she attended concerts and exhibitions, she made many friends in intellectual and artistic circles, including GF Watts, Hercules Brabazon and William Morris (Arts and Crafts). Her travels to the Levant, Algeria and Europe brought new stimuli. Wherever she went, she observed and tried new techniques: singing, painting, carving, embroidery, gilding, metal work and photography. In addition, she became a keen plant collector, noting all the new plants and gardens that she saw.
In 1868, the Jekylls moved from Bramley to Wargrave in Berkshire, 40 miles west of London, Gertrude then had her first chance to focus on the decoration of a home and the creation of a garden. She also began to exhibit her paintings, embroidery and craft work. Admiring neighbours and friends gave her commissions. Gradually, Gertrude’s original ambitions as a painter fell away, particularly as she suffered from poor eyesight; thereafter, her artistic talent and creative drive were primarily channelled towards garden design, though she continued to draw and paint for the rest of her life. Gertrude Jekyll’s paintings of Parma, Italy and Wargrave above.