In the beginning, the hedge reigned

Before Gertrude Jekyll, designing the garden was not really something done.  Oh yes there is the Tuileries in France and lots of manicured green lawns and hedges  thanks to Henry VIII, but not one garden incorporated the beauty of the flower.  Everything prior to Miss Jekyll was about the sculpture and design of the bush, the hedge or the lawn For whatever reason, the flower, colourful and fragrant was all but ignored , snubbed if you will. Flowers were something that perhaps the workers, and cut for the table. But they never outlined or decorated lawn , for they faded fast and encouraged weeds. 

Then  came Gertrude who with her artistic eye, and saw the sculpture of the flower and its blossoms, not like Monsieur Redoute for the wall, but in the garden itself and as center stage.  The hedges were now the backdrop, the lawn a green carpet to highlight their bold color, and wayward pattern.

It was a bold move but ended up being highly successful, as Jekyll completed about 350 commissions in her native England and America, of small snatches of Eden,  that soothed the senses and encouraged the imagination. But, and this is the thing, almost all of  these designs were executed without her ever leaving her home in Surrey– thus the preponderance in Sagittarius in the eleventh house was  for her correspondence with her clients, not her actual appearance, for her letters traveled everywhere, while she stayed at home…tending her garden. 

Mr Catesby and Miss Jekyll

I have rectified her birth time to 10:06 in the morning, giving her an ascendant of 06 Capricorn 00.  Sepharial did not particularly this degree, giving it the symbol of a “butcher clothed in his working dress conducts a sheep to the slaughterhouse”  saying it represent a person crafty and cruel.  

But Marc Jones did not care for Sepharial,  hence he invited Elsie Wheeler  to create their own symbolic degrees, because the “dark and dreary” Sepharial did not resonate with a New Thought philosopher. amd one has to agree when reading the symbol for Miss Jekyll. Luckily, Jones and Wheeler got together in Balboa Park, where they called upon the etheric spirits to guide them to a new set of symbols, and they attributed  06 Capricorn as a Dark Archway and ten logs at the bottom, a “symbol of the illimitable resources of self in preserving its own integrity through the varying fortunes of everyday life.

Jones explained this is  where personality comes to fulfillment while it explores its own potentialities.”   Jones assigns the keyword of “Thoroughness” and suggests it bestows a high level of competence.

Another to disagree with the dreary Sepharial, is E. C. Matthews in his Fixed Stars and Degrees of the Zodiac Analyzed, and now calls 6 Capricorn, a degree of “refinement ” and “artistic tastes.” 

Thus, between the two, we get a picture of devotion and faithful care for her work.  With all her planets on the Western Hemisphere of the chart, we see her resourcefulness help to make this pioneering endeavour a brilliant success.

                                      The Ephemerality of the Garden

Ms Jekyll  it seems came from a family of notable gardeners — her grandfather, a few times removed, was Mark Catesby, who studied the flora and flora of the then American Colonies  and the Royal Bahama Islands.  Catesby was the first to describe North America’s natural history published with colored illustrations.  1 A Catesby inspired coloring book is available here on Amazon. His findings were a knockout success in England and encouraged many to relocate to  those southern climes.  The Smithsonian Institute has a pleasant discussion on her botanical ancestry over here, that includes her great-great-great uncle, the attorney-politician-financier, Sir Joseph Jekyll for whom Jekyll Island is named in 1562.

      The love of gardening is a seed once sown, never dies

Gertrude Jekyll

From the garden below to the stars above

Her Mercury is in the Tenth House highlights her fame through her writings on garden architecture and while  she produced several hundred commissioned garden plans, not all were for complete gardens. Some were for a border, or a particular area, a small spot, not always as grand as the lawn bowls-tennis court below.  Alas, many of these lovelies do not survive, but her  Part of Fortune in the third house  of brief communications suggests that ephemeralness, as well as the voluminous correspondence between herself and her sibling, — she was quite close to her brother and his wife.   


While the gardens may have been like sandcastles on the beach, her writings are still around, for which the Fixed Star Alpheratz conjunct her Part of Fortune definitely helped as it bestows good fortune, and a long-lasting name.  Many of her works are now public domain; this is one of my favorites.  Images, also black and white, are available at the Bio-Diversity Heritage Library here.


two pages of Ms Jekyll’s profuse notebooks.[/caption]

                          Astrologically Jekyll

Astrologically, Ms. Jekyll is a bundle — all her planets fit within the span of a trine, and that is only because she reposed right about Pluto was discovered in 1930.   The Neptune in Aquarius shows her artistic flair, that borders almost on a garden of Watercolors (she loved the great English artist, JMW Turner), and Mars nearby shows how she applied that with spade and pitchfork, creating physical replications of his great paintings.  That was not accidental, for Ms. Jekyll was formally trained as an artist, at the South Kensington School of Art (now the Royal College of Art), where  she studied botany and optics — an interesting choice as her Sun is conjunct the Fixed Star Antares which afflicts the eyesight.  Indeed, it was that loss of vision that made her applied her artistic talents towards the garden instead of paint.


              Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 

Of course, the biggest question is whether she was related to Dr. Jekyll in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?  Yes.  Stevenson was good friends with her brother  Francis, who drew this portrait of his sister intent on her drawing, and asked to borrow the name.  You can read the novella here on Gutenberg.  Or watch the silent, below.


                          I originally published this at a friend’s —   basketball Coach Mike Phelps– suggestion, because they share a birthday on January 1, 2018 under the heading of “architecture” in the now defunct Sabian Earth site.  I republished it under the new heading of “Visual Artists” on February 28th, 2022.  While the article, with images, were  expanded, the original chart is unchanged.








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