Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Great Dixter on Friday, April 14, 2017

Great Dixter

The classic view of the incomparable home and garden of the late Christopher Lloyd. Christo was not only brilliant in how he created and managed the garden here as we know it, he found, groomed and set Fergus Garrett in place to follow his lead. I have yearned to visit for longer than I can remember. Unlike so many famous destinations, Dixter far exceeded my lofty expectations. I hope my very amateur photography conveys a bit of its grandeur, elegance and perfection. Commentary will be brief. It's pretty superfluous.

Although nearly a decade has passed since Christo died, I venture he would aver that Fergus has kept his vision secure. I have no doubt there have been innumerable subtle alterations--it's Fergus' garden now as well, no doubt about it. But the temperament and style of these two incomparable gardeners is such that the garden glows.

The counterpoint between vista and vignette is played everywhere, as masterfully as a Bach cantata.

Room after room, view upon view--and not one weed.

You cannot ignore the growing beds or the nursery areas--tucked to the side though they may be: they are the engine that fuels the craft. And they are beautiful in their own right. Oh! that I might have been able to take some of these treasures back to my own garden. The prices were absurdly reasonable.

The obligate Gunnera. I shall feel inadequate until Denver Botanic Gardens (or my home garden) has a patch!

The MEADOWS: once these were likely mere lawns, but Christopher began to treat them like pieces of the original landscape, and now they're filled with orchids and rare plants unknown for miles around. They're interspersed among the more formal bits--and between those monstrous, magnificent and simply astonishing topiary yews. I can't begin to express my amazement and delight watching the spectacle unfold as I walked through!

Notice how carefully they mark the pathway so that untrained staff or unwitting visitors won't tread the delicacies in the meadows!

Look carefully: there are untold numbers of Orchis mascula, the "long purples" of Shakespeare. My heart skips a beat thinking about these.

Here and there in the fields are piles of grasses, cut branches, all manner of organic debris: these eventually decay and form compost, but in the meantime, they're a deliberate device to lure a wide spectrum of native insects which use them for nesting. These are scattered deliberately and widely throughout Dixter--an inspiring demonstration of true sustainability (rather than the chic imitation we usually hear about and see).

Orchis mascula up close

I love the insect hotel in the parking lot!

And the nursery again...sigh.

A small patch of lawn filled with several forms of Dactylorhiza, another precious orchid. There must be thousands--tens of thousands--of these in the meadows at Dixter. I was a few weeks early to see them in their full glory: a good reason to go back in May!

Adrian Cooper (my host) on the left, and Fergus striking a heroic pose on the right!

Add caption

Jan next to another of the insect hotel/compost heaps

Fergus Garrett

Christopher Lloyd

I photographed a painting that's hung inside the house: I took innumerable pictures there too, but they shall have to wait for another time...

My deep gratitude to Derry Watkins, Tim Ingram, Adrian and Samantha Cooper for inviting me to come to England, setting up my enormously rewarding lecture tour, and hosting me and Jan. I've been blessed with many special trips in my life: none of them exceeded this one for learning, novelty or pleasure! I thank Fergus for taking so much of his precious time with us: Türk kardeşim sana sarılıyorum!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this pictorial trip through Great Dixter. I have read about this garden several times. This is one of my favorite reports. Fergus looks so serious in these photos. In the third photo I see in the wall all the old nails, hooks etc that once held support for vines. I love all the stone work in walls and around the water feature. Of course the plants are the main draw. Everything is beautiful, even the piles of debris for the smaller denizens of the garden. No WEEDS????? Amazing in such a large space.

  2. As beautiful as ever. My visit was in mid-summer, with quite a different pallet on display. I sense a return visit in my future...

  3. Ha! I suppose that should be "Palette" however---I don't recall a single "Pallet" in sight!

  4. I really really really have to visit the place! Thank you for reminding me that I have it on my to-do-list.

  5. Your visit was at what would for me be the best time of year to visit Great Dixter, when the smaller scale of the perennials and still-leafing shrubs make it easier to appreciate and "read" the wonderful Lutyens bones of the garden. Those circular steps are among my favorite shots in this thrilling virtual visit. Thanks so much.

  6. A post I'll revisit for months; thanks again for this solstice/holiday gift.

    Re: the debris-to-compost piles -- Would be very interested to read a post where you expand on this a bit: "an inspiring demonstration of true sustainability (rather than the chic imitation we usually hear about and see)"


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