Gardens Great and Small

19 Sep

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.

On the road! (Photo taken by Kirsi, one of interns.)

On the road! (Photo taken by Kirsi, one of interns.)

Here we are in the parking lot hot with anticipation. (Photo from Kirsi, taken by Sean.)

Here we are in the parking lot hot with anticipation. (Photo from Kirsi, taken by Sean.)

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.)

Here is the path leading to the house, Great Dixter.

Here is the path leading to the house, Great Dixter.

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.

I love all the plants in there pots enjoying the sun (if it comes out).

I love all the plants in there pots enjoying the sun (if it comes out).

Here are some close-up’s of the Wall Garden:

I love the chrysanthemum-flowered marigold mingling with the limey-greens and the hot pink of the Pelargonium.

I love the chrysanthemum-flowered marigold mingling with the limey-greens and the hot pink of the Pelargonium.

I love how the lavender flowers of Thalictrum rochebrunianum float above the golden leaves of Rubus cockburnianus 'Goldenvale'.

I love how the lavender flowers of Thalictrum rochebrunianum float above the golden leaves of Rubus cockburnianus ‘Goldenvale’.

The ebb and flow between the magenta flowers of Polygonum orientale, the deep green leaves of the Abelia, and the chartreuse leaves of a Lavatera(?) is so wonderful.

The ebb and flow between the magenta flowers of Polygonum orientale, the deep green leaves of the Abelia, and the chartreuse leaves of a Lavatera(?) is so wonderful.

And through the Wall Garden…

Sean heading into the next garden with Salvia seboana(?) and Cestrum parqui(?) crowding the pathway.

Sean heading into the next garden with Salvia seboana(?) and Cestrum parqui(?) crowding the pathway.

…we end up in the Barn Garden and the Sunk Garden.

I audibly gasped at this point. Also the Sunk Garden is hiding in the middle of all of that.

I audibly gasped at this point. Also the Sunk Garden is hiding in the middle of all of that.

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:

The white cosmos are so fresh and fancy-free!

The white cosmos are so fresh and fancy-free!

Did somebody say 'glorious'?

Did somebody say ‘glorious’?

The borders are just immense!

The borders are just immense!

My god, the colors!

My god, the colors!

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.

Apparently the Sunk Garden used to be a vegetable garden in World War I.

Apparently the Sunk Garden used to be a vegetable garden in World War I.

Do you see that GIANT magenta flower in the corner?

Do you see that GIANT magenta flower in the corner?

It was a ridiculously ginormous dahlia.

It was a ridiculously ginormous dahlia.

We wandered back into the Wall Garden and went down the steps into the Blue Garden.

Here is the other half of the Wall Garden.

Here is the other half of the Wall 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.

Calmer than the gardens before, but no less beautiful.

Calmer than the gardens before, but no less beautiful.

Still in the Blue Garden, but on our way to the Topiary Lawn. Oh, and the topiaries behind us are supposed to be teapots.

Still in the Blue Garden, but on our way to the Topiary Lawn. Oh, and the topiaries behind us are supposed to be teapots.

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.

It was quite a shock to walk from the Topiary Lawn and immediately encountering this!

It was quite a shock to walk from the Topiary Lawn and immediately encountering this!

This garden made the previous gardens look thin.

This garden made the previous gardens look thin.

Remember my little Amicia zygomeris cutting at home? If it survives, hopefully, it will one day look like this.

Amicia zygomeris looking amazing with the giant grasses and gingers.

Amicia zygomeris looking amazing with the giant grasses and gingers.

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.

An absolute jungle!

An absolute jungle!

Lush, lush, lush!

Lush, lush, lush!

It almost felt like I was in Wonderland, the only thing missing were giant mushrooms.

It almost felt like I was in Wonderland, the only thing missing were giant mushrooms.

There's one of the narrow exit paths.

There’s one of the narrow exit paths.

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.

The first thing you see is the Japanese anemones starting to bloom.

The first thing you see is the Japanese anemones starting to bloom.

Here is the full beautiful view of the Long Border after you pass the mulberry tree - just stunning!

Here is the full beautiful view of the Long Border after you pass the mulberry tree – just stunning!

Here is Sean looking up at something at the end of the border.

Here is Sean looking up at something at the end of the border.

A close-up of a section.

A close-up of a section.

Gosh, just look at all those colors!

Gosh, just look at all those colors!

Another close-up view of the Long Border.

Another close-up view of the Long Border.

Here is looking back down the Long Border towards the entrance.

Here is looking back down the Long Border towards the entrance.

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.

Autumnal and beautiful.

Autumnal and beautiful.

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.

This path leads to the Vegetable Garden and the Prairie.

This path leads to the Vegetable Garden and the Prairie.

I love the hot colors of the marigolds and their lemony-medicinal scent.

I love the hot colors of the marigolds and their lemony-medicinal scent.

Looking back at the house - what a view!

Looking back at the house – what a view!

These spicy zinnias really burned bright in the overcast gray.

These spicy zinnias really burned bright in the overcast gray.

This path leads down into the Peacock Garden.

This path leads down into the Peacock Garden.

Down we went into the Peacock Garden where many giant topiary Peacocks tower overhead flanked by large billowing grasses and perennials.

This is looking at the Peacock Garden from the High Garden. See the peacocks?

This is looking at the Peacock Garden from the High Garden. See the peacocks?

Here is the walk way along the edge of the Peacock Garden.

Here is the walk way along the edge of the Peacock Garden.

Polygonum orientale has been making many appearances in the gardens intensifying and deepening the colors of the flowers and leaves around it.

Polygonum orientale has been making many appearances in the gardens intensifying and deepening the colors of the flowers and leaves around it.

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!

3 Responses to “Gardens Great and Small”

  1. kce0 September 22, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on RHS/GCA Fellowship Experience and commented:
    Hello, it’s Terry again! Here’s a post on my visit to Great Dixter. Enjoy!

  2. Heather C. September 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Terry I love your blog so much! My favorite thing these days is to drink tea while reading your new posts. You are so truly inspiring.

    • terrygardens September 29, 2013 at 12:58 am #

      Thanks, Heather!I’ll try to write more often then.😉
      I hope all is well with you

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