8 December 2000

Womans hand in the garden for 400 years

AN exhibition celebrating 400 years of feminine influence on gardens from Elizabethan times to the present can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London until Jan 21.

Called Women and Gardens it features Queen Caroline, wife of George II, and Princess August, mother of George III. They both helped shape Kew Gardens. The Duchess of Beaufort, who brought in many plants from South Africa, is included with Lady Dorothy Nevill, who corresponded with Darwin and had a magnificent plant collection.

Many of the subjects are unmarried or widowed and so owned their gardens. Until the late 19th century married women had to surrender property rights to their husbands. Among 30 other women represented are Gertrude Jekyll, Margery Fish, Constance Spry, Beatrix Potter, Sylvia Crowe and Miriam Rothschild. Interactive attractions will include a replica of a 16th century turf maze and a light box which will enable visitors to design a Gertrude Jekyll garden. Admission is free. Telephone: 0207 306 0055.

Gertrude Jekyll

by Sir William Nicholson