September in Our Favorite English Garden, Part 1

After nearly two weeks of visiting gardens in France and England, Judy and I were beginning to feel satiated in a way the Germans call Gartensodden. Or if they don’t call it that, they should (possibly I made that word up). And so it was with a certain weariness that we headed off to Great Dixter on our last day in the English countryside.

Christopher Lloyd, the gardener. Not Christopher Lloyd, the actor.
Christopher Lloyd, the gardener. Not Christopher Lloyd, the actor.

The weariness did not last. This was, without doubt, our favorite English garden. Great Dixter was the home of the late gardener and garden author Christopher Lloyd. I have not read any of his books, because I always felt that English gardeners did not have much to say to gardeners in the American Midwest. Oh, foolish me.

Great Dixter is exciting, joyful, surprising, and playful. Or I thought so, anyway.

Great Dixter

We walked first into the Barn Garden. As at Sissinghurst, yews are used for background and dividing garden areas. But as we shall see, these are not neat, geomtric, anal retentive yews.

Great Dixter

In many places Great Dixter explodes with colors. You feel like these ebullient flowers are going to reach out and give you a big hug. I love this kind of abundant color, so I was enthralled.

great dixter


great dixter

Here’s a quote from Christopher Lloyd: “I have no segregated colour schemes. In fact, I take it as a challenge to combine every sort of colour effectively.” A brave man, who fearlessly combines magenta Cosmos with yellow Rudbeckia. Of course, in a large garden it is easier to have lots of different colors in different areas.

great dixter

Figs growing up the barn wall.
Figs growing up the barn wall.

The Barn Garden adjoins a barn, not surprisingly. Figs grow along the barn wall. I like the shape of the foliage.

2013-09-14 07.09.34 great dixter sunk garden

From the Barn Garden, we walked to the Sunken Garden.

2013-09-14 07.11.01 Great Dixter

Salvia, Dahlias, and Lychnis. Love this mix of red, pink, and blue.

2013-09-14 07.07.36 great dixter sunk garden

A closer look at the pond. There were no aquatic plants blooming when we visited.

2013-09-14 07.09.22 great dixter

Christopher Lloyd was a free spirited gardener who was happy to let self-sown plants find their own favorite spots. Sandstone was used for the paving.

2013-09-14 07.10.40 great dixter sunk garden

Another wide view of the Sunk Garden.

Well, I’m going to stop there, as I would not want to cause readers to become Gartensodden. Next: Great Dixter’s Wall Garden and beyond.

47 Comments on “September in Our Favorite English Garden, Part 1

  1. Well isn’t this just heaven sent! It is a dream of mine to go here and after viewing your beautiful pictures I know that i can not get there soon enough!!!!

  2. You visited at the very best time of year to enjoy Great Dixter! You should read Christo’s books, they are full of humour and sometimes, refreshingly bad temper. This is also a garden still gardened completely in the spirit of its owner unlike National Trust properties which can sometimes seem to be gardened by committee. I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit.

  3. No fear of becoming sodden here! Love those colours – I can see the plants have their say in this garden, and not just the gardener. Like that very much and look forward to the second instalment. 😀

  4. I love picture number 3 and 4 with all the vibrant colours. Pink and yellow actually look good together. At least in this garden.

  5. Really great post, funny too. You have certainly captured the abundance of spirit and planting perfectly. Looking forward to part two. 🙂

  6. What lovely pictures of Great Dixter. You couldn’t suffer from Gartensodden here. There is so much to enjoy.
    In the fourth picture, don’t you love the dangly pink flowers of Polygonum orientale: Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate? First grown in the US by Thomas Jefferson apparently. You don’t see it very often, I think it is lovely for late summer.

  7. Christina is right, autumn is the best time to see this garden. I typically visit between late May and mid July, but the September 2013 visit was the best ever. Unfortunately, while many of the other gardens were good, their best comes earlier in the year. Even still, it was wonderful to be in England and visit gardens without the usual crowds.

  8. I love spirited gardens like this. Glad Chloris identified the Polygonum orientale. Look forward to more Great Dixter.

  9. Wonderful post, and wonderful photos. I have never been to Great Dixter but I love Lloyd’s books; you will, too. Next time I hop across the pond, it’s on my must-see list.

  10. I knew you’d love this place – it’s so brave, adventurous and innovative, and I think they’re so lucky that Fergus continues the good work. Do you know Lloyd’s books? They are great fun!

    • I have not read any of his books, but will make a point of getting to them this year. Do you have a suggestion for one to start with?

      • “Cuttings” is lovely to read but you should enjoy “Colour for adventurous gardeners” too, Jason.

  11. Hehe, Gartensodden, I like it. With two Flings under my belt, I know the feeling. This looks like a wonderful garden. That shot of the Rudbeckia with the red flowers behind (Dahlias?) and the white daisy is very energizing.

  12. Another well written garden visit blog Jason. What a beautiful place to visit and judging by not only your comments that you picked the right time to go.
    I have to admit to liking the yellow and magenta combo. I grow Persicaria (Polygonum) along with a white flowering plant, that I can’t for the love of me remember the name, and have always had my doubts on whether or not they look good together, your image has just confirmed that it should stay.

  13. Oh…I have a thing for Yew and really enjoyed the Yew here. What a fantastic garden…..I also loved the sunken pond. How gorgoeus!xxx

  14. I’ve been enjoying your Euro garden series of posts silently on my phone even though I haven’t managed to comment lately This one might be my favorite. Love your term ‘gartensodden’. You always manage to crack me up. Great pictures!

    • Glad you’ve been enjoying the posts. We all get busy, so don’t worry about not commenting, And as I wrote, Great Dixter was definitely my favorite as well!

  15. Already I am gartensodden, and I want more! Free spirited and exuberant, not afraid to make a statement, and just a little on the wild side. Christopher Lloyd was my kind of gardener!

  16. YES!YES!YES! An exuberant garden that feels like a hug! That is IT exactly! That’s the same philosophy I’ve used to design my garden but when I’ve described it that way, I’ve gotten some weird looks. Thanks for clarifying which Christopher Lloyd that is. 😉 I LOVE that garden!!

    • Hey, thanks for the Garden Love! I actually find it difficult to talk about garden design (as opposed to plants) and the comparison to a hug just popped into my mind, so I went with it. It is also the feeling I try to achieve in my onw garden.

  17. I’ve been enjoying your travels through all these gardens. Thanks for bringing them to us this winter.

  18. How nice to see a colourful garden. That was probably Mr. Lloyd’s mantra…colour, colour,colour.

  19. This is one garden I’d really love to visit. I have a couple of his books but the garden looks so different and more interesting in your photos. All of a sudden I feel good about dahlias again!

    • There’s surely no reason to feel bad about dahlias? They were all over Giverny also. I’d grow them but I don’t want to mess with trying to save the tubers over winter.

  20. It is my favourite garden too. We have always visited earlier in the year, but I have always known what promise September held, so it was good to see those late blooms out. It is such an exuberant garden, and also very reassuring, as it has a very relaxed feel about it.

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