Gertrude Jekyll and Global Warming

Sambucus nigra (Elder) starts to flower in the cops near the Viller Mühle
MAY, 2016


Historical Gardens



What on earth has Gertrude Jekyll to do with global warming? She lived in a time that nature dictated the rhythm of people and not the other way round.

Elder bloom earlier than Midsummer

Born during the reign of Queen Victoria she drove her governess cart along the lanes of Surry.  In addition, she made herself at home by ordering the housekeeper to light the fire during a cold and snowy December evening. No, it is not Jekyll herself but her stories which give us some valuable information on global warming. In her chapter ‘Midsummer’ in Home and Garden she wrote:

“Anyone who is in close sympathy with flower and tree and shrub, and has a general acquaintance with Nature’s moods, could tell the time of year to within a few days without any reference to the calendar; but of all dates it seems to me that Midsummer Day is the one most clearly labeled, by the full and perfect flowering of the Elder.”

She continuous by telling that the full and perfect blooming of the elder coincides with the feast of Saint John the Baptist at the 24th of June.

Midsummer Day is the one most clearly labelled, by the full and perfect flowering of the Elder.

Clematis montana and Hosta. Two plants which Jekyll used on her north court at Munstead Wood

Good gracious, we have the last days of May and most of the Elderflowers already show their full and perfect bloom and it will take only a week to cover this shrub with a dazzling sea of flowers. Last year I noticed that the elderflowers were flowering before the longest day but this year I wanted to monitor it more closely.

Jekyll’s books

Gertrude Jekyll’s books are now out of print and are only available second hand. Martin Wood though selected and edited rather unknown material from articles, notes and letters. They are available by clicking the links below.