Tag Archives: Great Dixter

City Streets to Country Lanes

14 Jun

Oh gosh, has another month passed again?! I can’t believe it is already June! If there are any regular readers out there, I am sorry I haven’t been updating more regularly! I’ve had a bit of horticultural whiplash lately, and though I know I made it sound really unpleasant, in actuality I’ve been having a fun time zooming from one garden to the next.

The last time I updated I was in the Tropical Nursery at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Since then I’ve been in the Arboretum Nursery potting up nursery stock and all sorts of shenanigans in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Don't mind me, just admiring the world's smallest waterlily species (Nymphaea thermarum) that's also extinct in the wild...

Don’t mind me, just admiring the world’s smallest waterlily species (Nymphaea thermarum) that also happens to be extinct in the wild…

Since the Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)  was in bloom, a soon-to-be diploma student and I pollinated every flower in hopes of getting some seed.

Since the Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) was in bloom, a soon-to-be diploma student and I pollinated every flower in hopes of getting some seed.

I was at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew until the second week of May and the next week I scooted off to Winfield House, which is the US Ambassador’s home in Regents Park. (No, unfortunately I wasn’t staying there, just helping out in the garden.) Though I have a few photos of Winfield House, I’m not allowed to post any of them in a public space. However, during my week there the Head Gardener – Stephen Crisp – arranged some gardens for me to visit: Great Dixter, Sissinghurst Castle, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, Lambeth Palace, The Royal College of Physicians, and Buckingham Palace. I know, isn’t that quite the line up?

This was my second time visiting Great Dixter, but it was great to see the garden in a different season and I got to meet head gardener (Fergus Garrett), some of the staff, and students. It is amazing how full and lush everything was, I did not find a single gap in any of the gardens there!

Great Dixter is much softer in the spring, but with the same free spirit!

Great Dixter is much softer in the spring, but with the same free spirit!

After visiting Great Dixter Sissinghurst Castle was a little bit of a let down. (Not that it wasn’t beautiful, it just wasn’t as full compared to Great Dixter.) Though in their defense, they just brought in a new head gardener in the autumn and it was a week or two before the garden was at its height. Still lovely nonetheless.

The hot colors in these beds at Sissinghurst Castle made it feel warmer that day.

The hot colors in these beds at Sissinghurst Castle made it feel warmer that day.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is in the heart of London and you wouldn’t know it just by visiting it. Just walking through it there are many little passages, courtyards, and gardens, and with all the buildings arranged like a village they seem to cancel out the noise from the busy streets. (Oh by the way, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is where most of all the high-profile barristers work in London.)

A wonderful spring display in the herbaceous border. Does it remind you of Great Dixter? Well it turns out the head gardener used to be a student there.

A wonderful spring display in the herbaceous border. Does it remind you of Great Dixter? Well it turns out the head gardener used to be a student there.

Lambeth Palace is also in the heart of London with the Garden History Museum located off to its side. This is where the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lives in London. The gardens are English in style, but each one has it’s own signature and feel, ranging from formal to naturalistic. The idea is to create a tranquil space for everyone – from the visitors to the bishops – to unwind and reflect. (Just by change I met the Archbishop of Canterbury that day!)

This herb garden was one of my favorite sections and though the chefs may come out to pick some for cooking, but it's really there for people to enjoy the fragrance when wandering by or finding a sunny place to sit.

This herb garden was one of my favorite sections and though the chefs may come out to pick some for cooking, it’s really there for people to enjoy the fragrance when wandering by or finding a sunny place to sit.

Being on the outer edge of Regents Park, the Royal College of Physicians are tighter on space. Though the gardens are smaller they are quite wonderful and packed full of plants familiar and new. Generally, the plantings are inspired by plants that have or were once used for medicinal purposes by doctors and apothecaries. Though the plant palette it may suggest a very botanical garden style design, the plants are combined and used in a free manner. The gardens softened the buildings and created a fresh atmosphere.

This block of buildings has one long garden in the front where an 18th Century list of approved plants for apothecaries to sell/use are brought to life. I love it!

This block of buildings has one long garden in the front where an 18th Century list of approved plants for apothecaries to sell/use are brought to life. I love it!

My final visit was the gardens around Buckingham Palace and it was quite a treat! When I was there a small crew of people were setting up marques for her summer garden parties, but luckily the Queen was staying at another palace that day and I was able to see her massive long herbaceous border. (Her window overlooks that section of the grounds and if she were home we wouldn’t be allowed to be on that side.) Also like the Winfield House, I wasn’t allowed to take photos. Sorry to disappoint!

This was the final day of build-up in front of the to-be Best of Show garden. The garden designer/builders' stress levels were through the roof!

This was the final day of build-up in front of the to-be Best of Show garden. The garden designer/builders’ stress levels were through the roof!

Next phase of the horticultural whiplash: a week at the Chelsea Flower Show! It was truly astonishing, since I have never seen anything like it. It was like London through a giant garden party and everyone from the rich and famous to the average gardener could attend – that is if they can get their hands on a ticket fast enough. My position was the Volunteer Support support. All joking aside, I was there to help both the volunteer coordinators and the volunteers, so if they needed anything I was their go-for.

The Great Pavilion was filled with all sorts of flowers at peak perfection.

The Great Pavilion was filled with all sorts of flowers at peak perfection.

It was also amazing to witness the ‘Chelsea Sell Off’ at the end of the show. At 4:30pm on the final day of the show, a bell is rung then everyone – even the most genteel of people – get worked up into a frenzy and descend upon the gardens and flower stands and buys up anything with chlorophyll in sight. It was amazing what people were trying to take home on the Tube. Though I can’t lie it was wonderful to see giant plants and flowers bobbing up and down through the crowds, decorating the London streets for an evening.

The chaos!

The chaos!

And the brave! (Or crazed?)

And the brave! (Or crazed?)

Next a caught the train and made my way down to RHS Garden Rosemoor for a week. It is a beautiful garden, very peaceful and intimate.  I think it may be my favorite out of the RHS gardens. (Shh…don’t tell Wisley.)

The lake water was so sill that day it was like a giant mirror reflecting everything so beautifully.

The lake water was so sill that day it was like a giant mirror reflecting everything so beautifully.

After my short stint at RHS Garden Rosemoor I slipped down to the Eden Project and I’ve been here for two weeks now. So far I have worked in the Mediterranean Biome, the Tropical Biome, the Outdoor Biome, and the Nursery. Next week I will be with the ‘Narrators’ (kind of like docents), Pathology, and Plant Records. It’s an amazing place and a different take on botanic/ornamental garden. When I will write a more detailed post when I next have access to more reliable internet access. This is my last week at the Eden Project and on Saturday I am off to Tresco Abbey out in the Scilly Isles! Gosh time flies!

Here is one of the paths curving through the olive grove in the Mediterranean Biome.

Here is one of the paths curving through the olive grove in the Mediterranean Biome.

Though many would find it too hot, I actually enjoyed the heat and humidity in the Tropical Biome.

Though many would find it too hot, I actually enjoyed the heat and humidity in the Tropical Biome.

I’ve headed out for the day to enjoy the the glorious warm and sunny weather in St. Ives. Anyway, that’s just a quick update for now. (I’ve been sitting in the Tate Gallery Cafe using their wifi for the past two hours and I think they are ready for me to leave.) See you all soon!

I haven't seen the sea in months and I couldn't have asked for better weather!

I haven’t seen the sea in months and I couldn’t have asked for better weather!

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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!

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