|First view of Great Dixter - 'over the garden gate'|
Is it possible to have a memory of a place without going there?
This is the central question posed by a book called Losing Site, which I tried to review for Green Places magazine last year. I gave up in frustration because a) I found the book unreadable and more importantly b) I heartily disagreed with its premise that a place can have resonance through artifacts such as postcards.
But I'd forgotten about Great Dixter.
|The Long Border|
Visiting Great Dixter last week was like going home. Christopher Lloyd was the first garden writer who 'spoke' to me. His words made sense and for the first time I 'got' how magical gardening can be.
His words also form a golden thread sown through very dark times. Some years ago NAH's father died just before we went on holiday to Derbyshire. Much of that time was spent to-ing and fro-ing between our holiday cottage and Darlington; making arrangements, attending the funeral, dealing with the final part of growing up losing a parent brings.
In the quiet pauses between the bustle, I was reading Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners. It was a healing balm. If we'd been at home I would have spent time in my own garden, but as we were away, Great Dixter and its Long Border was my place of recuperation.
It's one of the reasons why I've not visited before. When so much emotion is invested in a place and what's been written, visiting can only lead to disappointment can't it?
Well, I was wrong.
|Despite what the sign says, we were made most welcome!|
We may have visited in one of the coldest of Marches and just before the doors opened to the public, but Great Dixter was magical. It's the first time I've been to a place where its feel can be summed up in one word. Happiness.
The team there truly enjoy what they do. Fergus Garrett is inspirational and his enthusiasm flowed from him into we bloggers there for the day. I was struck how Christopher Lloyd's legacy carries on through those left behind. The strive to learn, do better, and experiment is refreshing. It's not always perfect - Fergus readily admits they get things wrong sometimes - but the key importance is it's taken as a positive thing, an opportunity for learning. It's something that's sadly missing in most places I've experienced, particularly work.
As well as feeling inspired and invigorated, I also felt a bit daunted. The team there have so much knowledge* and expertise and I have so little. Thank goodness I have my garden and my blog; they form the backbone of my own learning.
|Probably the tidiest garden nursery I've ever seen|
And I NEED to find one of these:
|Helleborus 'Anna's Red'|