Just last weekend I got the opportunity to visit two very well known gardens: Great Dixter and the Chelsea Physic Garden. (Starting with style, if I do say so myself!) Both were very different gardens, but both amazing in their own way. The team leader of the herbaceous department was heading down to Great Dixter and invited the two foreign interns and myself to come along with on Saturday. Sunday I was heading off to meet some friends that happen to be visiting London and one of the interns from the trip to Great Dixter also was heading into the city to run errands and visit the Chelsea Physic Garden. She asked if I wanted to join her and, of course, I said yes. On this post I’ll cover Great Dixter.
Great Dixter - Saturday, Sept. 14
It was early afternoon, overcast and a bit chilly. (Autumn is definitely on its way.) The sky was threatening to rain, but the weather reports said that at its worst showers would be on and off. Sean pulled into the parking lot and picked the two other interns and myself up and headed south to Northiam, East Sussex. The drive took only a little over an hour and it was fun to watch the woods give way to hedgerows and livestock.
Great Dixter was home to one of the great English gardeners and garden writers, Christopher Lloyd. He was born and raised at Great Dixter and through both his parents – particularly his mother, Daisy – he developed a great passion for gardening. (His mother would also introduce him to Gertrude Jekyll, another very influential English gardener.)
First we headed off to the right and slipped into the Wall Garden. It was so wonderful to see plants overflowing from their beds and dripping into the walkway. Sean told me that Christopher Lloyd was also known for his playful use of color and I have to say the gardeners here are doing an amazing job keeping up with his designs.
Here are some close-up’s of the Wall Garden:
And through the Wall Garden…
The Sunk Garden is, well, sunken in the Barn Garden, so the two gardens are stacked like a Russian doll. Here are some of the views in the Barn Garden:
I wish there was a way to take a 360° photo, because the way the Barn Garden enwrapped the Sunk Garden was just amazing. So may layers upon layers of great textures and colors.
We wandered back into the Wall Garden and went down the steps into the Blue Garden.
The Blue Garden wasn’t particularly blue, but it was bubbling over with foliage. I’d say this is the transitional room, since the next garden down the path was the Topiary Lawn.
Christopher Lloyd converted the lawn in the Topiary Lawn into a meadow which creates a beautiful contrast to the constricted clipped shrubs. However, they recently sheared the lawn back, so we slipped through into the next garden. We walked under the ‘hovel’, a cow shed, and emptied out into the Exotic Garden.
Remember my little Amicia zygomeris cutting at home? If it survives, hopefully, it will one day look like this.
Apparently this garden used to be a rose garden, but Christopher Lloyd and Fergus (the Head Gardener now at Great Dixter) ripped them all out and planted tropical/subtropical plants instead. This was due to the roses not doing well there and new ones suffering from ‘replant disease’. Either way, this garden is quite thrilling and a tangle of color and life. It’s amazing how many plants they crammed in there.
From the Exotic Garden we wandered through the Orchard, up and over to the Long Border. The Long Border was still looking quite fresh and beautiful, even though summer was warm and long this year. From the bottom of the Long Border there is a large mulberry tree that blocks the view, which creates a great unveiling for the Long Border.
From the Long Border we went up the steps to the Orchard Garden. This garden was showing the most signs that autumn is fast approaching – bittersweet.
From here I slipped up into the High Garden. Here some of the perennials and annuals were starting to grow tired, but amidst them tropicals were still going strong, carrying the garden into first frost.
Down we went into the Peacock Garden where many giant topiary Peacocks tower overhead flanked by large billowing grasses and perennials.
Phew! That was a lot, but it isn’t even everything! All in all, I had a wonderful time at Great Dixter and I was completely swept away by the plantings and design. I have to say that the gardeners have been doing an amazing job keeping gardens in tip-top shape. How’s that for my first excursion here? Stay tuned for the Chelsea Physic Garden post next!