Rather improbably, a small walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll lies in open grassland on Lindisfarne. It is on a slight south-facing and always windy slope about 500m north of, and across a formerly tidal inlet from, Lindisfarne Castle, whence it was meant to be viewed.
My first photograph is not a very good one but it is the best I could do with the somewhat weathered, end of summerish-looking information board behind the plastic cover of which was displayed, tantalisingly, a fold-out printed leaflet. This clearly contained all the information I wanted about the two different, and differently opinioned, designers, Edwin Lutyens – who redesigned the castle – and Jekyll. I know this image is practically unreadable – it was on site too – but at least it makes the point that two arbiters of early 20th century taste and design clashed over how a small garden in remote Northumberland should be laid out and planted just over a hundred year ago. Enquiry later in the National Trust shop established, incidentally and sadly, that the leaflet is out of stock, out of print and unlikely to be re-printed. I think we should be told why.
Viewed close up in wan autumnal sunlight on 26 October, the garden itself, in contrast, looked immaculate and very National Trust-worthy. It was clean, neat, spick and span, recently dug where bare and correctly pruned where still standing. I’ve been visiting it on and off for over 50 years and it look as well-cared for as I’ve ever seen it, even though now is not traditionally when a garden is supposed to be looking at its best. Well, this one did, sans practically any flowers. Perhaps there is a lesson there.
This second image is of the garden viewed centrally from its south (and only) gate. The reddish central square contains sedums (or should that be ‘seda’?).
The next view is from the top left hand corner of this first photograph, looking back towards the gate and the castle beyond, high on its sheer-faced rocky outcrop. To its left, the flat-topped mound is a natural hillock much-shaped, perhaps surprisingly in this context, by an 1860s waggon-way and a large lime-burning complex. Left foreground, in the south-east corner of the garden, is what I always think of, without justification but nevertheless, as Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s garden shed.
North from the shed, along the inside of the eastern wall, are espaliered fruit trees and the vegetable and herb gardens, reaching as far as the north-eastern corner:
Well done, the Gertrude gardeners. Ignore the wind and keep up the good work.