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!