Since my love for gardening has taken hold, there are certain gardens that I’ve wanted to visit for ages. These are gardens that you see featured all the time in magazines and books, and the photos always look spectacular. Great Dixter was the home of garden designer Christopher Lloyd, and it’s characterised by a bold use of colour and really dense planting. It’s been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time, and despite being without my ‘big’ camera as it was being repaired (all photos in this post are from my phone!), I really wanted to see Great Dixter in late summer, before autumn set in and things started to go to seed.
I was stunned by the density of the planting – grasses spilling across paths, colourful flowers at every glance. It seemed that everywhere you looked there was something beautiful to look at, and it was overwhelming at times. This isn’t a peaceful garden by any means, it’s a riot of colour – purples and organges, pinks and yellows. There are so many paths leading in different directions, it felt like we were completely lost at times, and then we’d suddenly come upon a scene we knew we’d seen before.
There are so many little gardens to explore, all set around the house (we skipped the house, as Max has no patience for these things, just the gardens!). We started in the sunken garden, set around a gorgeous pond which was filled with water lillies at the end of August.
We then moved into the Peacock Garden, with it’s topiary birds, the High Garden, and then the Orchard Garden, all edged and divided by yew hedges.
As we emerged from the High Garden into the Prairie and the Vegetable Garden, Max was treated to the site of a lawnmower (no surprise – he’d been navigating towards the sound the whole time, shouting ‘mower!’). Apparently this was the highlight of the visit for Max, and we had to stand there and watch the mowing for quite a while.
The highlight of our visit for me was the Long Border – designed to reach it’s peak from mid-July through to mid-August, but still looking pretty spectacular in late August in our visit. I love the use of orange – I tend to shy away from oranges and yellows, sticking more to the pinks, purples, and blues which go so well together, but I was struck here at how uplifting just a pop of orange can be. I loved the fairly informal way that the plants work together – the planting is so dense that they appear to be woven together at times. It was a treat for Max too, as they’d set up the hose sprinkler system – it was a hot day and he spent ages running through the water jets! He got himself thoroughly soaked and very happy.
The Exotic Garden was a surprise – in among the vast leaves of the expected ‘jungle’ type plants were planted roses and other ‘cottage garden’ types. This bit was a huge hit with Max too, who loved pushing his way through the foliage to explore – doesn’t he look like an intrepid explorer?
Great Dixter didn’t disappoint at all and is a garden I hope I can come back to, to see what it looks like in different seasons. I hope that I can take a little inspiration from Christopher Lloyd, and be a bit bolder with my use of colour – oranges and yellows here I come!
Open 25th March to 30th October 2016
Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays (Closed on all other Mondays)
Gardens 11am to 5pm (last admission)
Website: http://www.greatdixter.co.uk/ (see website for updated opened times and ticket prices)
Ticket prices (correct at time of visit): Adult (House & Gardens), £11.55, Child (House & Gardens) £1.65; Adult (Gardens Only) £9.35, Child (Gardens Only) £1.10