Sunday, 25 October 2009

First and last - Great Dixter

Firstly thank you all very much for your helpful comments on the selection of autumn pictures in my last post - it was a close run between Greenbank Garden in Scotland (#1) and Sheffield Park, East Sussex (#7), but by the time I'd counted all the replies on my personal email, it was Greenbank that got the most votes.... so watch this space, because that's the garden going on the cover of my book! And the best news of all as we head into winter, is that building work has begun on our foundation hospital in Rajasthan.... if you're interested, please have a look at The Raven Foundation.

I woke up to a wonderful sunny day and remembered that today was the last day that Great Dixter opened, and although I've been to this iconic garden many times before, I really wanted to see how it looked at this time of year. It was, I think, even more fabulous than in the summer months ... add to that the fact that it was deserted ... and it made for a great day out!

The dusky autumn light meant that you got wonderful views across the gardens to the Lutyens house in the background, and freshly-clipped yews turned the empty gardens into a striking stage set - I kept waiting for the actors to appear! No wonder Christopher Lloyd loved this house so much - it is just magical with its timber-framed facade and heavy chimneys.

Most striking was the fact that the gardens looked as good on the first day of winter as they do in the summer. Of course, there were flowers in decline, but the dusky autumn hues made up for any dying blooms that had missed the gardeners' shears; there were subtle colours everywhere and the exotic garden had never looked better - it was like walking through the Amazon jungle!

This must surely be one of the most striking gardens in Britain and with the backdrop of a house that dates in part to medieval times, but was reinvented by Edwin Lutyens for Christopher Lloyd's parents in 1910, Great Dixter should be on every gardeners' wish list to see before they die.

Cristo, as Lloyd was known to his friends, lived here until he died in 2006, and the trust that runs the property today, has faithfully maintained his meadow-style garden, so visitors come from all over the world to admire the property. Every corner you turn at Great Dixter reveals something different. Looking particularly spectacular today was the sunken pond garden (above), and even the famous Long Border - a 60m spectacle - looked fresh and filled with colour.

I felt really sad that the garden was closing for winter - with this kind of colour and interest, it could easily stay open for another few weeks, but even gardeners have to take stock and prepare for the next season, and I feel sure that with the huge number of visitors Great Dixter attracts annually, the gardeners need every day of the next six months to prepare for the onslaught of spring!

27 comments:

  1. Superb post of a wonderful garden. I visited many years ago during the summer and loved the garden.

    The house a Hall house is lovely. Our neighbours moved some years ago into a Hall house here in Surrey it is a Manor house but it will be some time and lots of work before the gardens could compare with this although they were designed in the Jekyll style.

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  2. Boy, I really need to work on my fall/winter look around here! Gorgeous place and lucky, lucky you. ;-)

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  3. Absolutely beautiful. Even in autumn. I loved the topiary squirrels!

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  4. From reading your words I really got measure of how important this garden is to you and possibly how it has influenced you personally.

    There is something bittersweet about Autumn and closing a garden in preparation for the next year but as we all know it is necessary and always justified.

    Thanks again for a beautiful post.

    Ryan

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  5. My first thought was of the boxwoods I've not finished pruning. Then my thoughts turned to the great beauty portrayed here and how I appreciate getting to see it though your photos.

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  6. Hi Tiggerlot, I'm glad you were able to view this garden and share pics with us. It looks like the weather was perfect. The plants look like they have no intention of quitting, despite the decline of daylight and temperatures. I'm guess that it's Beauty Berry [Calicarpa] on the third photo between the houses. There is no substitute for mature plants strutting their full glory. Cristo's legacy is a thrill for all of us diehard plant people.

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  7. Fab photo's. I went to hear Fergus Garrett talk about Great Dixter last week and found his enthusiasm such a tonic, so it is lovely to see your photo's today.

    RO :o)

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  8. Wow! Another garden to add to my wish list. -Jean

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  9. Great Dixter is another garden on my list to see before I die, I had better live to 102.
    Fabulous news about your book, maybe every one else already knows, but I was wondering what it is about?
    Deborah

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  10. You people in the United Kingdom are so lucky. Or I should say so fortunate to have real history meaning a long history. We just do not have much of this sort of thing in Canada at all. there are few here but the history is scant and the desire to create places like this here is not great enough. we are getting better at it but it is slow

    These pictures are beautiful again
    reg

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  11. all photos are great but the last one is the best!... loved!

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  12. Charlotte, I'm very sorry I am late in my comments. But, I am very happy to know that you already have a good headstart on your book project and raven foundation. That's great! As always, I truly enjoy all your photos and your writing style. There is so much to learn from you.

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  13. A lovely post - As this is my favorite time of year - it is great to see Great Dixter wearing her Autumn colours - and still looking marvelous.
    K

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  14. Oh very nice garden, i like those topiaries very much.......thanks for sharing :)

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  15. The photos looks so nice and the last one is my favorite.

    You are so good in writing.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Another lovely post Lottie. I do love the timbered cottage! The garden and the cottage are a matched set. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. I hope you will keep us posted when your book is out, that's really exciting!
    These are great pictures of this beautiful garden.

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  18. Such a lovely garden. Thanks for the tour.

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  19. What a gorgeous garden - I especially liked the last photo of the pumpkin in, what looks like, a garden shed of some sort. As it's doubtful I'll get to see this garden in person, thank you for sharing it with me!

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  20. Hi Charlotte, Great Dixter is on my must see list for when we come to the UK in a couple of years. Everything about it is so full of inspiration. I have a couple of his, Lloyd's, books and was greatly influenced by them, well before Piet stole my heart and mind! Hooray for your book, sign me up for it! :-)
    Frances

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  21. What beautiful and atmospheric photos. I would love to visit Great Dixter - I have a book with wonderful old watercolours of this and other gardens, which I have found very inspiring.

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  22. Beautiful Garden. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. I went to hear Fergus Garrett speak a couple of weeks ago at Bath Uni Gardening Club. A fascinating talk and I think he needs the 6 month to catch up on lost sleep. I don't think he gets that much whilst the garden's open. He also does about 90 speaking engagements which go towards keeping Great Dixter open and more importantly a real garden, not a shopping destination.

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  24. This is very beautiful garden. The blooms, landscaping and the look-n-feel of garden is awesome. I am sure it would have been a wonderful sight in summer.

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  25. Charlotte, I've always wanted to see Great Dixter. Christopher Lloyd's was one of my first books on gardening, and what impressed me was how low-key and unstuffy his writing was. He made it all seem possible. Thanks for the inside view.

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  26. What a beautiful garden and home. How wonderful it would be to see it in person. Thanks for sharing this.

    FlowerLady

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