The best day of the summer at Great Dixter
In August, I visited Great Dixter, an utterly charming house and garden in East Sussex. I went with two dear friends and we had one of the BEST days of the summer snapping photos of flowers, enjoying a delicious lunch in the café and a cream tea.
The gardens are a place of pilgrimage for students and gardners the world over. Every corner is exquisite, haphazardly planted with tumbling dahlias, daisies and teazils falling over paths and entwining themselves round the beautiful building, which was the family home of the garden’s mastermind – Christopher Lloyd.
Framed by yew hedges and brick walls, the garden is designed as a series of outdoor rooms. As you walk through, you’re constantly being surprised by the intimate gardens that pop up round each corner. Each bed is planted to look amazing through the seasons, with the goal of no bare soil. And plants from all over the world rub shoulders – native trees, shrubs and perennials side by side with plants and bulbs from South Africa, Chile or the Middle East.
Since Lloyd’s death in 2006, his great friend and gardening ally, Fergus Garrett, has taken the garden forward, continuing to experiment and challenge himself to make it more colourful, stimulating and sustainable.
The house is a romantic recreation of a medieval manor house, dreamed up by the architect Edward Lutyens together with its first owner, Christopher Lloyd’s father, Nathaniel Lloyd. It’s made up of two buildings – the original tudor building and a 16th-century decaying timber house from a nearby village, which was dismantled and re-erected at Dixter.
They laid the foundations of the garden at the same time, and the two weave in and out of each other. Potted plants spill out from the steps, borders and hedges hug the walls and succulents nestle in the roof tiles – apparently this helps to plug any leaks!
The highlight of our visit was the incredible exotic garden. As you fight your way through oversized tropical banana leaves and ferns you simply cannot believe you are in England.
The day wouldn’t have been complete without trying to get a picture of all of us. We laughed until we cried as we tried to get a shot where we were all in focus and in shot!