Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe

Landscaping the World

Today is the anniversary of the death of one of the 20th century's leading landscape architects, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.

Jellicoe was multi-talented, but his true passion was landscape and garden design, which he described as "the mother of all arts." He was a founder member of the Landscape Institute.
Over his 70-year career, Jellicoe designed more than 100 landscapes around the world. Jellicoe designed the John F Kennedy memorial site by the River Thames in Berkshire.
Jellicoe’s final and most ambitious project was the Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. Jellicoe imagined a design where visitors could walk through the history of the landscape, from the Garden of Eden and the gardens of ancient Egypt to a design inspired by Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain (1924).
As the Moody Garden website acknowledges,

"It was the culminating work of his design career but has not, as yet, been implemented. We live in hope."

Jellicoe's favorite garden was the gardens he designed in Hemel Hempstead. Jellicoe designed the Hemel Hempstead Water Gardens to improve the quality of life for the townspeople. Jellicoe designed a canal with dams and little bridges to take visitors from the town parking lot to shopping.
Jellicoe designed the canal after seeing one of Paul Klee’s paintings of a serpent. Jellicoe said,

“The lake is the head and the canal is the body,” wrote Jellicoe in his book Studies in Landscape Design. “The eye is the fountain; the mouth is where the water passes over the weir. The formal and partly classical flower gardens are like a howdah strapped to its back. In short, the beast is harnessed, docile, and in the service of man.”

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Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe

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