Thursday, 16 April 2015


When I visited Great Dixter in Kent UK for the first time in early September 2014,  I felt quite emotional approaching the familiar front entrance of this wonderful 15th century manor house sitting comfortably in the garden.  I say familiar only because I had read a great deal about Christopher Lloyd's garden and the development of his home Great Dixter in 1910 by his father Nathaniel Lloyd and the architect Edwin Lutyens  Parts of this house date back to 1450.  Read here if you wish to know more.  

I was visiting the Loi Thai's charming blog Tone on Tone this week.  Loi fills his posts with beautiful photos of  Belgian style antiques he sells in his shop as well as of his own home and garden.   In one of his posts Loi refers to Christopher Lloyd's quote from his book 'A well Tempered Garden'  -  
" If Hyacinth scent is cloying,  I am perfectly happy to be cloyed"  This delightful quote prompted me to look back on the photos I took when visiting Great Dixter last year and I thought I would share these on the Blog today.    While slowly scrolling through my many photos (apologies),  I happened to be listening to Sir Edward Elgar's  'Nimrod'.  The combination was perfect and moving. If you have access to this music,  try the combination!  

I visited Great Dixter and Sissinghurst on the same day.  This was my first visit to both and I looked at my photos of both for weeks after.  What an incredible experience to visit these gardens at last.    We were lucky that the weather was grey and chilly,  resulting in relatively few visitors.    I did, however,  loiter about waiting for people to step aside before photographing!  Mr. R-I was most patient!

As it was late summer,  Great Dixter was awash with Dahlias, Zinnias, Rudbekia, Salvias and more.  Strong warm colours which I love.  Great Dixter was, and still is an experimental garden and changes are constant.    Fergus Garrett was head gardener for the last 15 years of Christo's life.  It was a garden of consideration.  Every day they would walk around the garden asking themselves, "Is it worth it,  does it grow well, does it stand on it's own".  Many decisions were made, some of which required immediate action and others left as and when the seasons dictated.  

The garden is filled with a great variety of plants offering different sculptural elements, leaf contrast, and textures.    Interestingly,  Christopher Lloyd preferred to call his Long Border a "mixed border" and not a perennial border.  I have added a link to a video at the end of this post where Rosemary Verey pays a visit to Great Dixter.  Christopher and Rosemary Verey talk about Dahlias and much more.  Christo shows her his "Exotic Garden" which I remember from my visit.    Their interchange is so delightful and one feels that there was  a friendly rivalry between them.    They refer often to 'hot colours' as opposed to 'cool colours' which were obviously more popular at that time.  Christopher it seems,  was not afraid of moving against popularity.  

I do hope you enjoy looking through these photos.    It was a perfect day for photos - good light and no sunshine!   

Can you see the Daschund in the topiary?

A pebble mosaic of Christopher's two daschunds - Dahlia and Canna laid in 1998.

Most of the borders were at shoulder height and we walked through tunnels of blooms and colours and textures.

The Long Border designed by Nathaniel Lloyd and Lutyens.

I love the Heleniums in the foreground which I also grew on South Acres.  They flower in late summer.

The sedum in the foreground just being to colour

Look at those wonderful chimneys

I loved this window

I love the three Oast Houses on the right.

Below is the link to the  video of Rosemary Verey's visit with Christo at Great Dixter.  The video was filmed in late September of that year,  a time when this garden is possibly at it's best.  Christo refers to Fergus his head gardener,  and today, Fergus Garrett still manages the garden.  I met him briefly, as he walked about followed by two Daschunds who could be heard barking in the garden from time to time!  If Christopher Lloyd could walk around his beloved Great Dixter today,  I know he would be proud.  To view this delightful video please click 
here - I know you will love it!

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