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SW London
A semi-mature, hardy individual who tries to get away with doing as little as possible in gardening as in life, still expects the best results & wonders why she is frequently disappointed! She likes to keep a photographic record of everything, good & frequently bad!

Friday, 22 October 2010

The play was over but the stage not yet cleared


This was how I saw the garden at Great Dixter during a visit there with Arabella Sock a few days ago. The weather was glorious; the sun shone from a deep blue sky, as we entered the garden I momentarily thought it must be spring with the huge spreads of a glorious lavender blue crocus in the lush green grass….095 094

I had only visited Great Dixter once before, during the height of summer & had been impressed with the planting combinations then & loved seeing the late Christopher Lloyd pottering around, talking to visitors. So when Arabella Sock suggested an autumn visit, (I suspect just to show off one of her new hattiwats), I agreed as I was interested to see the garden in another season & under different stewardship.

In spite of the weather there had very obviously been a frost the night before. Many of the tender & exotic plants at Great Dixter had clearly been  affected. Some of the plants we could not see, although quite why the exotic garden  had to be closed whilst it was assessed I don’t know! 036

But first, the stage. This is the bones of the garden, the permanent structure around which the planting ebbs & flows with the seasons like actors & actresses entering stage left & leaving once their role 128had been fulfilled, some to return, others to have only one brief part to play. The first of this stage set is of course the house with its history, shapes & colours which are very pleasing. Then we have all those rather dominant yet rhythmical yew hedges & shapes. These seem to anchor the planting, no matter how exuberant it may be. 106 043


So, the players, just who are they?


The dahlias had been frosted but still looked rather glorious, like old & faded actresses where you can see that wonderful bone structure but the lipstick was beginning to bleed into the wrinkled skin round their mouths & their 045dresses have got creased & torn. Despite this they were still an essential element of the chorus. 






Other players were still feeling full of vim & vigour…. like the asters & the grasses…..

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There were also some little details which I thought were so wonderful including the wall full of the delightful Erigeron karvinskianus & the brick path through the grass……

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Oh yes, and the hat….


…….. like the garden, exuberant!!


  1. Arabella is wearing a purple hat that matches the purple in the Dahlia's...good organisation indeed.

    Love your description of fading actresses with their dresses creased and torn.

    HelenReeley x

  2. Thank you for the tour :)
    I have still never been to Great Dixter, I'm ashamed to say - I will get there one day!

  3. A masterpiece indeed! (The hat that is!)I love the 'fading actress' dahlia. Interestingly in VP's autumn gardens piece in the Guardian, Gt. Dixter has billed itself as "the main attraction now is the exotic garden, full of big, bold leafy plants and hot colours – Cannas, dahlias, Tetrapanax and bananas. It's like stepping into a jungle". That was the bit that was closed due to frost damage assessment.

  4. Good post, its nice to see a well known garden at a time of year when it isnt so popular and photographed. I wonder if they closed the exotic garden in case you took pics and said look at this rubbish.

    Interesting, despite being in the midlands my Dahlias are still going well with no frost damage

  5. Great hatwear and the garden isn't too shabby either. Been there in early June when Christo was still alive & kicking. It is nice to see it again and during a different season too.

  6. Thanks for your comments. There was lots more I could have said about the garden but there is only so much master-piecing that I can manage...back to usual rubbish next !!