One of England’s most celebrated gardens, Great Dixter dates to 1220, a pedigree that is both impressive and historic, while the property’s magnificent Great Hall traces back to the 15th century.
Great DixterSunk Garden Tulips Photo © Alice Joyce
Son of Nathaniel and Daisy – who acquired the property in 1910, Dixter’s resident Dean of British Gardening, Christopher Lloyd passed away at age 85, yet the legacy of his plantsmanship, and status as opinionated provocateur remains ever present.
Great Dixter Spring Photo © Alice Joyce
Lutyens-designed Stone Steps
Lloyd’s absence was a bittersweet aspect of my May visit to the garden, as I recalled the last time I toured the landscape in Lloyd’s company, soaking up each word he uttered as we moved through the renowned yew-hedged rooms, topiary lawn, meadow and sunk garden.
Christopher Lloyd Great Dixter Photo © Alice Joyce
Christopher Lloyd photographed on a previous visit.
Great Dixter comprises a wealth of gardenscapes that surround the main house, oast house, and barn buildings that architect Edwin Lutyens worked his magic upon. Lutyens achieved a seamless integration, for instance, of the ‘Old House, Benenden,’ which he had dismantled, and then incorporated as an addition to the original Dixter home.
Lloyd’s horticultural acumen shines throughout the gardens in innovative and brilliant plant marriages. I reveled in springtime displays where wildflowers romped through grassy meadows, and tulips brightened every vista. The renown of Great Dixter is predicated on the sumptuous plantings forming a sublime partnership with Lutyen’s Arts & Crafts hardscape: a framework distinguished by warm brick walls embellished with roofing tiles, and the unmistakable semi-circular stone steps. Entirely at one with the architecture of the buildings.
Great Dixter Container Arrangement Photo © Alice Joyce
Quite a bit of work was ongoing during my May sojourn: Scaffolding covered the front of the house, and the famed exotic garden was not camera-ready. You might enjoy perusing Christo’s thoughts on designing with exoticism in mind, set forth in his last book, published by Timber Press: Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners.
Peruse the many books written by Christopher Lloyd .. on Amazon.
Great Dixter Springtime Photo © Alice Joyce
Click the ‘England‘ tab under Topics on the home page to read a range of features on garden touring, from the Chelsea Flower Show to Mapperton, Altherhampton, and a host of alluring settings from my sojourns to Britain.
Great Dixter Meadow Photo Copyright © Alice Joyce
If you’d like to read more about the history and areas of design associated with Arts & Crafts Movement, I recommend two beautifully produced books: In Harmony With Nature, by Rick Darke and…
Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement by Judith B. Tankard.
Great Dixter Topiary Photo © Alice Joyce
Great Dixter Bloom Photo © Alice Joyce