U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Great Dixter. Part 2 - Nursery, Exotic Garden, etc.

In this post - some pictures of the Garden which weren't included in the first post (Great Dixter Garden From Under My Umbrella), and also Exotic Garden, Nursery, Prairie and everything else.

Let's start with the Nursery.
It was a pleasure to walk among the greenhouses and plant beds, reading the plant labels
 and, well, envying the people who were buying the plants.
If I could take a train, not a plane, over the pond, I would happily join them.

'The Nursery was started by Christopher Lloyd in 1954 after teaching at Wye College. 
Specialising in clematis and plants that he liked and deemed garden-worthy, 
he started with a couple of cold frames and a glasshouse. 
We still raise plants using the same methods to this day, 
and we remain a small, personal and professional nursery'.
 (Great Dixter House and Garden website)

 The whole time I was in the Garden, there were people (gardeners, students, volunteers)
working - doing maintenance, cleaning, preparing plants for sale, etc. 

I appreciated all of the information on the plant labels

This is the link, if you are interested in the information about Great Dixter's potting compost

 I took this picture while having tea at the Garden's  Refreshments Loggia.
Already a bit tired, I nevertheless, felt good being close to the nursery plants, rustic structures and
being emerged in the serene atmosphere of English countryside.
You can take a girl out of the village, but you sure can't take the village out of the girl.

I like these green pea supports

 Gigantic piles of compost impressed me! In fall, pumpkins are planted on them.
After returning home, I lovingly turned over two compost piles in my own garden.

'The gardening style is intensive but plants are allowed to look comfortable. 
Our main method of feeding is with organic waste which is dug into the borders on a regular basis. 
Plants are not cut down in the autumn and winter period until the spring tidy up begins, 
providing us with valuable skeletons for a winter effect and a good food source for animals. 
We are not organic but use minimal chemicals, always preferring the softer option. 
We grow the majority of plants ourselves and constantly experiment. 
The water used is from our own borehole and we compost almost everything we can. 
The number of gardeners varies but usually there are five full-time gardeners, 
supported by part-timers, students and volunteers'.
(Head Gardener Fergus Garrett. Great Dixter House and Garden website)

The Exotic Garden was just awakening after the winter and was not yet in its prime.

'You can walk through the ‘hovel’, an old cow shed, on to the site of a one-time cattle yard 
(with their drinking tank in the centre), where Lutyens designed a formal rose garden. 
Thanks to replant disease, newly planted rose replacements ceased to thrive here, 
so on Fergus’s arrival at Dixter, we made a grand alteration, got rid of the roses and created 
a late summer to autumn garden for tropical effect, though many of the best foliage plants are quite hardy.
 This has been a lot of fun. For colour, we are mainly using dahlias and cannas. 
There is a haze of purple from self-sowing Verbena bonariensis
A white, August–September flowering shrub, Escallonia bifida, is usually besieged by butterflies. 
The banana, Musa basjoo, is a hardy Japanese species.'  (Christopher Lloyd. 
Great Dixter House and Garden website)

Now, some pictures from different parts of the Garden:

'A yew archway, leading to a garden containing 18 topiary birds. 
Originally intended as pheasants, fighting cocks, blackbirds and suchlike, 
we nowadays refer to them all as peacocks. 
There is a central platform around which the topiary is thickest; 
my mother referred to it as a parliament of birds or as a conversation piece'. (Christopher Lloyd.
 Great Dixter House and Garden website)

'Dixter’s is a high maintenance garden; I make no bones about that. 
It is effort that brings reward. 
There are many borders and much work goes into them. 
Labour saving ground cover is not for me. 
If you see ground cover, it’s there because, first and foremost, I like it. 
If it does also save labour, that is an incidental benefit'.
 (Christopher Lloyd. Great Dixter House and Garden website)

Above, is part of the Cat Garden. 
I've been told that it was thus called because of the cat shed which used to be here.
 Farm cats were helpful in controlling the mice and rat population.

There are several barns and other buildings on the property.
One of them, the Great Barn, is 500 years old.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the Great Barn had been adapted for a variety purposes.
Parts were being used for housing livestock, while other sections were given over to general storage of such things as feed, grain and implements, and one end was being used as the drying and pressing floor for the adjacent oast house.
When Nathaniel Lloyd purchased Great Dixter in 1910, he was not directly involved in farming and the land was let to a tenant. For aesthetic purposes and to allow for the creation and development of the gardens, it was necessary to relocate the centre of the farming operation further away from the house to a new set of buildings that were constructed 200 metres down the track on the other side of the road. This left the barn only with a few low priority storage functions, particularly once the oast ceased operating in the late 1930s.
(Great Dixter House and Garden website)

It looks like I'm obsessed with fences...

'The yew topiary lends a particular atmosphere to several parts of the garden. 
There was more of it in my father’s time. It has a presence, 
especially when shadows are long and it appears to inhabit, rather than grow. 
It needs clipping only once a year. If done in August, 
it will retain its sharp outlines right through to the end of the following May. 
However, although we mechanised the operation soon after the last war, 
we seldom achieve this objective and are pleased if this prolonged task is completed by November. 
Yew grows much faster than people imagine, if the ground is well prepared and the plants are fed.' (Christopher Lloyd.

After returning from my European trip, I looked again through 'The Cottage Garden' by Christopher Lloyd and Richard Bird.
Parts of the Great Dixter Garden  are live illustrations for the book; for example, its 'Flower Garden' chapter:
'The quintessence of the cottage garden is an abundance of color and a jumble of scents.
The cottage flower garden is crowded with flowering plants, jostling one on top of another.
There are practical reasons for such dense planting.
Firstly, the leaves form a protective screen so that weeds have little chance of germinating and, if weeds do emerge, the dense canopy cuts out the light they need to survive.
In other words, the plants act as a ground cover.
Secondly, the packed-in plants support each other, rather like drunks after a party.
This reduces the amount of staking and tying that is necessary.
In fact, in some cases you may want to let plantsflop: for example, after cutting back a plant,
you might want to allow the one behind it to floop into the space and fill the gap;
alternatively, where the paths are wideenough, edging plants, such as pinks, always look pretty if allowed to sprawl out on to them.
The third advantage of dense planting is that it forms a microclimate (as in the steaming jungle).
A layer of humid air stays around the stems, helping to prevent them from flagging on hot days.'

Here is the link to the Dixter Vegetable Garden blog by Aaron Bertelsen

Walking along the outskirts of the property was as pleasurable as walking through the main Garden.

Gunnera tinctoria at the Horse Pond

Gunnera manicata at the Lower Moat

Good Bye, Great Dixter! I hope to see you again one day...
Thank you for walking with me in the Garden!

***Copyright 2016 TatyanaS


  1. Thank you so much for showing us so many beautiful pictures of Great Dixter Tatyhana, I have been there twice before and......end of June we are going to England with our gardenclub and also will visit Great Dixter. Already looking forward to it.
    Regards, Janneke

    1. Janneke, I'll be waiting for the pictures of the Garden in June! Tulips will be gone by then, but many other plants will be in bloom. Have a great trip!!!

  2. It's a wonderful place, and your lovely photos do it justice!

    1. Mark and Gaz, you are SO lucky to live close to all those beautiful gardens!

  3. Thank you Tatyana! I'd love to visit the gardens and then to shop!

  4. Wonderful! You must have been soaked to the bone, but happy. I love that you got a couple shots of the Sempervivum on the roof!

  5. Happy to find your blog, today! Really nice post with fantastic photos. I would like to visit Great Dixter Tatyhana, someday! Thank you for inspiring me! I'm the newest follower:-)

  6. Absolutely stunning pictures . I would buy a coffee table book of your garden pictures.
    I don't have adequate words for the gardens and everything around them , "impressive" and "creative" are pale descriptions of this almost mystically beautiful place. Thank-you.

  7. It's funny, but it exactly fits my stereotype of England! How lucky you were to see it.

  8. Wow, those pictures make me long to visit England again! Such beautiful gardens! Such ambiance! One can almost smell the mist and fresh dirt...

  9. Wonderful photos of a wonderful garden. I visited some years back and clearly it has been much improved since my visit although I enjoyed it then. The nursery area has clearly had a lot of needed attention. You clearly enjoyed your trip Thank you for sharing these lovely photos.

  10. How amazing to have visited this famous garden. Lucky you! The nursery seems to be quite the gardening machine. Your pictures are terrific especially some of the tulips. One day I would love to visit this garden.

  11. Tanya, Thank you for sharing your discerning eye in all that you see in these beautiful gardens. Your work brings us closer to the rugged beauty of the commonplace and the unexpected. Although I've visited Dixter myself, your ability to capture the alchemy of its magic is a true gift. In the stills, you help us discern the timeless elements inherent in Dixter's beauty and creation.

    1. Dear Anonymous, I wish I knew your name! Thank you so much for taking your time and leaving such a kind comment! It's very encouraging and supportive! It made me to re-read some of my old posts and realize that I actually used to write and not just show pictures. Blogosphere is getting emptier nowadays while Instagram and other platforms are getting more popular. It brings some thoughts about blogging - do I need to continue, are there people who are interested in my posts, etc. Your comment is very timely and certainly helps me in making decisions! Thanks again! Stay safe and healthy and have a great Holiday Season!


Thank you for stopping by and for your comment! I appreciate your time! See you soon on your blog!

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