William Robinson (1838-1935) started life in Ireland and came to London to take up a job as a foreman at the Regent’s Park Botanical Gardens. He became a fellow of the Linnaean Society at the age of 29 and a successful gardening correspondent of The Times. He founded two gardening magazines, The Garden and Gardening Illustrated, in 1871 and 1879. He wrote many books, including two particularly influential ones, The Wild Garden (1870) and The English Garden (1883), to which Gertrude Jekyll contributed some sections. He advocated the planting of wild flowers and reacted against the formal gardening traditions of the time, which was very much in accord with Gertrude Jekyll’s attitudes towards garden design.
The first meeting between him and Gertrude Jekyll was in 1875; they maintained a close friendship and professional association for over 50 years. He helped her on her garden at Munstead Wood; she provided plants for his garden at Gravetye Manor, a large property which he was able to acquire in 1884, from the profits of his writings and garden design work. She took over the editorship of The Garden for a couple of years in 1899 and contributed many articles to his publications. He remained a friend to the end; though very infirm, he attended Gertrude Jekyll’s funeral in 1932 in a bath chair, at the age of 94.
Gravetye Manor is a notable hotel and restaurant today, part of the Relais & Chateaux group. http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk
To those wanting to learn more about William Robinson, Richard Bisgrove has written a very informative biography The Wild Gardener