Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Weekend Wandering: Return to Great Dixter

First sight of Great Dixter
The same opening view as my last visit; in summer this time

I can't believe it's taken me a couple of months to tell you about my return visit to Great Dixter. You may have guessed something was afoot because I referred to it in my Poppy Appeal post and The Secret of the Erigeron Steps.

That's the thing I find about Great Dixter; it needs more attention than I can write about having a wonderful time. Each visit informs my gardening like no other garden does, which takes more thinking about... which in turn takes time.

Today feels right for a more relaxed wander through the garden, so let's go...

Fergus Garrett introduces the garden
What a privilege to have Fergus Garrett and many of the Great Dixter team as our guides for the day
Colourful pots galore

Anyone who joins the team at Great Dixter is encouraged to experiment with the famous pot displays. These are refreshed every couple of weeks or so, and they may also give a clue to planting seen elsewhere in the garden.

Experiments with a mass planting of antirrhinums
For example, there are some antirrhinums in the above display which echo one of the borders closest to the house.

This is an experimental border, with some different colours added this year to previous plantings. There was some discussion between Fergus and Rachel on whether this variation was working, how it might change, and the relationship with the blue flowers at the back.

That's what I love about Great Dixter: the constant dialogue about what is and isn't working, the experimentation, and not being afraid to fail. The latter is seen as essential to learning and moving the garden on to greater things

As for us visitors, this border proved to be a marmite one. I was one of the ones who loved it, particularly when placed in contrast with that brooding sky.


Meadow and topiary

Meadows were much in evidence. Jonny told us this one's in its first few years of existence, yet you can see the yellow rattle they've sown is doing a good job, with lots of native of orchids showing themselves already. I particularly liked the pleasing shagginess of the meadow in contrast with the formal clipped hedges and topiary.

The famous Long Border at Great Dixter

A quick pause to swoon over the Long Border. Bamboo canes turn out to be the gardener's friend (here and elsewhere in the garden), either as an invisible staking aid, or as Michael showed us it's used to gently clear plants out of the way when tending the border. It can be quite tricky to move in to replace a plant when the border is so densely packed.

Part of the vegetable garden

Christopher Lloyd's 'Gardener Cook' ethos is still alive and well with Aaron proudly showing us around the area he looks after. We sampled some of the delicious produce for lunch too. You can read Aaron's blog over at Great Dixter Vegetable Garden.

Part of the Sunk Garden


I'll leave you with this view from the Sunk Garden, one of my favourite stops on the tour.

My thanks to Fergus and the rest of the team who were so welcoming and free with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Fergus invited us to share his reflections on the garden 10 years after Christopher Lloyd's death. It's good to see the garden's in good hands and looking to the future, whilst being mindful of keeping to the spirit of Great Dixter and its most famous inhabitant.

You may also like:

Naomi's yummy photos from the same day and Francine's profile of some of the great people we met.

16 comments:

  1. Sublime. And a neat trick with the bamboo, I must remember that one.

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    1. It really is Jessica and that bamboo is such a simple solution to a problem many gardeners have when they want to change part of a border.

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  2. I love you Dixter posts. That experimental border puts me in mind of an aging diva still married to using a slash of red lipstick across her mouth. The effervescence of the sunk garden is sumptuous!

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    1. Thanks Felicia and welcome to Veg Plotting. I see from the latest pic on Great Dixter's FB page that the 'lipstick' has faded and the blue planting is now to the fore :)

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  3. Loved this. One of the places I need to see when I come next to visit. ;-) Love ya Michelle. ~~Dee

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    1. Dee you are so going to love it there. It was wonderful to see you when you came over earlier this year xxx

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  4. I love Great Dixter too, and the fact that they are not afraid to experiment. I love the meadow with the formal hedges, really quite wonderful.

    Re the bamboo, is that bamboo canes, or bamboo plant? I cannot tell from the pic (I get my new glasses on Wednesday!).

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    1. They were using bamboo canes Gwenfar and you won't be able to see them as they're invisible - well, most of them are. I'll make it clear in the post

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  5. Thank you Michelle! Visit to Great Dixter in May was a highlight of this year for me. How interesting is to see the Garden during different seasons!

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    1. Oh no, I missed you Tatyana! I would have been great to meet up.

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  6. Comment left by Sara Venn via FB as she couldn't publish it on here: Just wanted to say your reasons for loving Great Dixter and mine are quote the same-a garden moving forwards that acknowledges mistakes and differences of opinion and isn't afraid to experiment is so exciting and shows a real understanding of how most people garden!! Thanks for the post:))

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    1. Sara - I find it so inspiring there. I learn loads every time and yes, the experimentation is so important to me too!

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  7. Can't believe he's been gone ten years! Awesome to see your photos. Loved the front pot plantings.

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    1. I know! I had to check when I received the invitation!

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  8. My favourite garden, I wish I lived closer. We need more gardens prepared to experiment. I am envious of your day.

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    1. I wish I lived closer too, Brian. It took me 4 hours to get there (Google said 3 and a bit, and luckily I added on some 'stuck on M25' time), so seeing we had to be there for 10am, you can guess how early I had to get up! However, I realised on the way home that I couldn't stop smiling, so it was well worth it :)

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