Last week, I completed a placement at the magnificent Great Dixter in Northiam, East Susex. This is my last placement of the summer, and what a week to end on! The garden at Dixter seems to hum with glory, it is quite frankly splendid and a great joy to explore! A massive array of outstanding specimens are on display, planted in the most delightfully wild and carefree manner. It seems as if nature has taken over and run amok! Of course, it hasn’t; the entire place is meticulously managed, weeded and staked, but the complexity of the combinations evoke more a native meadow than herbaceous border. Common wildflowers mingle with exotic, tender cultivars, height and form is muddled, and the Jeykll colour wheel suddenly seems to be an irrelevant contrivance.
When a plant self-seeds itself and is allowed to grow, so often it somehow seems to just ‘look right’. This seems to explain how the planting works at Dixter, where they have become experts at utilising plants in a natural way. This naturalism influences the whole garden; the borders are planted up right to the path, so as the plants grow they froth onto the pathway, forcing the visitor to brush past and disturb countless bees & butterflies along the way. Elsewhere all the roses and dahlias are single-flowered, the less-cultivated forms harmonising with the overall wild feel. Very little bare earth is on show, with borders packed so tight it’s a wonder anything can actually grow!
Great Dixter and Sissinghurst are within 20 minutes drive of each other, please, by Jove, you must head south and make a day of it!
|Manor entrance with pot displays. Students are rallied at 5am by head gardener Fergus to piece these together every two weeks|
|View of manor from the Sunken Garden, which ended up quite literally sunken after incessant downpours on Thursday|
|Long Border view, the herb Dill can be seen in the foreground and throughout the garden. Plants with ‘see-through’ foliage are often used, lending themselves to the crammed planting|
|Some high notes at the top of the Long Border|
|Stock bed (any plant here liable to be dug up and used elsewhere to plug a gap) littered with the imposing Verbascum olympicum which self-seeds about the place like billy-o|
|High Garden, formal topiary smeared with informal planting|
|Harmony with bold colours in the High Garden|
|The Meadow, complete with ye olde topiary|
|Nanook, known locally as ‘the entrance cat’ due to his cheerful dominance of this slab seat at the garden gate. A genuine good egg|
|Meadow panorama, fascinating combination of styles|
As an aside, the hour-long Hidcote BBC4 documentary is available once more on the iPlayer after a second broadcast last weekend. Once again it appears unavailable outside of the UK (what are these asses playing at).