Great Dixter

It’s the first Friday of the month and perhaps this might be a good night to post on other gardens that I have visited over the years. Yes, this is my gardenwatch but undoubtedly each garden I have visited has left me with an idea or two that I have included in my own.

A hot summer’s afternoon, in the middle of July 2000, was when I visited the late Christopher Lloyd’s Garden and House at Great Dixter. We took the tour of the House which was where Christo lived some of the time. It was a stately yet homely house which he had lived in since a child. I could easily have imagined him in the Parlor in the evenings. We never saw him on our visit but he must have been around as an area of the garden was roped off and there were television cameras with a team mulling about. I wonder how many hours of his life he spent being interviewed.

The garden of course was what I really came to see of course but sadly I didn’t take many photographs on my visit. I don’t know why now except that I do remember being very hot and that the plants of the borders spilled over the paths with many well over my height! I’m sure you get the picture, bold dramatic planting for as far as you could see.

I do remember a slightly formal sunken garden with a pool and seating around it and on the way in/out there was also another area with tall grass plantings and a more informal prairie type pond. I wasn’t as interested in this type of planting then, our tastes change of course don’t they? I so wish I had taken more photos of my visit. However, I’m sure many will understand how sometimes on visits like this you just go ‘without camera’ to immerse yourself in the moment. I did love my walk through (not around) the big, tall plantings of this garden and I would definitely like to return one day – but not when it is as hot!

So looking back what ideas did I take from this Great Dixter? Mmm I think I would say complete freedom in planting. Be as bold as you want to with plants and never be afraid to change planting during the season! I am well known for moving practically every plant in my garden – including trees! My husband isn’t interested in plants at all so I pretty much do as I please – however the notion takes me. Oh.. I do enjoy the plants in my garden!

The photos above were taken at Great Dixter on 20th July, 2000.

12 thoughts on “Great Dixter

  1. I firmly believe in taking your plants for a walk around your property once in a while.

    I went to Great Dixter years ago, years before I was “into” gardening. I took no photos. So relish teh ones you do have.

  2. I sometimes wonder, too, why I haven’t taken more photographs when I quite love a garden.

    This garden looks magnificent and filled with all sorts of wonderful planting combinations. It must have been really inspiring. As you say, we always incorporate a few ideas into our gardens after visiting one that leaves a good impression!

  3. Wow. I’m so jealous! To visit Great Dexter is one of my dreams…but the good thing is, I have a few of Christopher Lloyd’s books, so I have lots of photos. And maybe, when I win that lottery….;-)

  4. I’m so glad I made an effort to visit Great Dixter a couple years ago. It was a dazzling summer day, we walked into the exotic former rose garden and there, dwarfed by the red, purple and orange flowers and giant banana leaves, was Christo wearing a purple shirt with his dachshounds and an adoring group of beautiful young men, and girls in lovely frocks!. It’s how I will always see Christopher Lloyd when I read about him.


  5. Hi again, Jim, Kate, Jodi and Celia 🙂

    Jim – someone after my own heart – good to hear! Yes, I am vexed I didn’t take more photos myself – glad I can share some though! I have made a few garden visits that I now see I have very few photos of. Ah well… I will just have to make return visits one day 😀

    Kate – Yes, I don’t understand this myself either. This visit was on holiday where I took many photos too. It was inspiring but at the same time quite intimate too – you walked with the plants. It was quite dreamy 😀

    Jodi – I thought you would like to hear of this visit – I’ve a few others you might enjoy too! Thanking about other visits, I don’t think I can wait until the first Friday of the month. Perhaps I could try regular Fridays for a few months! Yes, there are inspiring photos in his books – I love the style of his writing too. Fingers crossed for you that you will make the visit one day 😀

    Celia – I can well imagine the setting you describe! I am also glad we survived the baking hot summer’s day to visit too. The roped area with the camera crew had two canvas seats but no sign of Christo – maybe he was away changing his shirt for the next interview 😉 I too will always think of him in rather exotic shirts 😀

  6. Shirl, I too am envious of your visit. Reading Lloyd’s books, he has brought out the ‘all colors go together mantra’, something I would not have believed before being exposed to his gardens on the pages. From now on, always have your camera and take tons of shots. Those of us who will never see the UK gardens can’t get enough!

    Frances at Faire Garden

  7. Shirl, thanks for posting your photos about Dixter. Maybe they will trigger thoughts about other things that lye dormant in your mind.

    I would love to be able to
    I like for my DB to go touring with me even though he isn’t interested in gardens all that much. He loves taking pictures. This is the good part. While I get engrosed in looking at thngs I can ask him to take pictures to keep him satisfied. 🙂

  8. I still regret that we could not visit this garden (it was not open this day, I think it was a Monday) when staying near Great Dixter. But luckily I saw a lot of pictures in Christopher Lloyds books, so I can imagine how beautiful it must be.
    Sometimes it is a great chance to have a husband who is not so interested in plants (as mine too!), so I can do in the garden what I want and wish 😉 !!!

  9. Hi again, Frances, Lisa and Barbara 🙂

    Frances – Yes Christo loved to play with colour in his wardrobe as well as in the garden. I agree we have been conditioned into thinking some colours just don’t go together but he certainly broke this idea! I will try and get photos of other visits in the future but I still have a few more photos from visits in the past 😀

    Lisa – Yes, if you mean other gardens I have visited it certainly has. My problem will be finding the photos! Yes, my husband still enjoys going around gardens with me although plants are not his thing and over the years he has even learned a few plant names too 😀

    Barbara – That is a shame that the garden was closed 🙁 Yes, books, video and DVD’s are a great way to see the gardens. I agree, being able to do your own thing in the garden is great 😀

  10. Hi Shirl,

    I’m still reading “Dear Friend and Gardener”, and your post, photos and comments are rounding out my image of the man and the garden – It will be interesting to think of “Christo wearing a purple shirt with his dachshounds and an adoring group of beautiful young men, and girls in lovely frocks!” while perusing the next chapter.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Hi again, Annie 🙂

    I’m glad my post and comments have added to your reading.:-D

    I loved my visit to Beth Chatto’s garden 12 years ago on a trip that took me to my first (and only) visit to Chelsea Flower Show. I enjoyed visiting her garden more than Chelsea!

    Just another thought for you – I am guessing you have seen photos of Beth. I have a video of her talking about how her garden began and the changes she made. She has a lovely soft English voice and I could listen to her talk about her garden and plants indefinitely. However, having heard Christo in his interviews too I have difficulty in imagining them chatting to each other! Don’t ask me why 😀

  12. I've read most of Christos books and I think he delighted in breaking the rules and challenging the gardening establishment. A friend was lucky enough to spend some time with Christo a few years back when he visited Great Dixter. It would have been a great subject for a talk at the local gardening club but we never got around to it.

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