Our Favorite English Garden in September, Part 2

Time for more distraction from the snow. Here’s another installment about our visit to Great Dixter.

2013-09-14 07.13.36 great dixter brick archway

Leaving the Sunken Garden with its pond, we walked through a stone arch toward the Wall Garden.

A mosaic portrait of one of Christopher Lloyd's dachsunds set into the paving.
A mosaic portrait of one of Christopher Lloyd’s dachshunds set into the paving.

An unexpected feature of the Wall Garden was the mosaic portrait of Christopher Lloyd’s two dachshunds, Dahlia and Canna.

2013-09-14 07.12.13 great dixter blue garden

I like how containers are used to keep taller plants in the beds from having bare knees.

2013-09-14 07.15.45 great dixter blue garden

More container plants in front of a border.

2013-09-14 07.15.20 Great dixter brich arch

Another archway, festooned with Hydrangeas, leads to the Blue Garden.

2013-09-14 07.16.20 great dixter dahlia

We don’t seem to have many pictures of the Blue Garden. But then again, in looking through these photos I have to admit I’m a little unsure about where the Wall Garden ended and the Blue Garden began.

2013-09-14 07.19.23 great dixter topiary

From the Blue Garden, we went to the Topiary Lawn. Now, I generally do not like topiary. To me they seem dull, fussy, and silly. In fact, I had a sneaking suspicion that these topiaries were making fun of other topiaries. However, from what I’ve read, that does not seem to be the case. So on this point I’m afraid Mr. Lloyd and I part ways.

2013-09-14 07.22.20 great dixter long border

However, he and I were in accord once again when we came to his Long Border. Let me quote form Christopher Lloyd regarding this wonderful part of his garden: “It is my belief that no gaps, showing bare earth, should be visible from late May on … The effect should be of a closely woven tapestry.”

2013-09-14 07.23.58 great dixter long border

Love the splashes here of blue aster, orange Nasturtium, and yellow Helenium. The bronze fennel, with its open habit, blends well into the front of the border despite its height. And I also like how the plants in front spill out over the limestone pavers.

2013-09-14 07.27.03 great dixter long border

Another Christopher Lloyd quote: “I want the border to look exuberant and uncontrived. Self-sowers, like Verbascums and Verbena bonariensis, help towards this.” He surely succeeded in creating the look he wanted based on that quote. In the photo that’s a Lutyens bench in a nook created at the top of the Long Border.

More on Great Dixter coming soon. Next post: Snow and Sun.

33 Comments on “Our Favorite English Garden in September, Part 2

  1. I also like that idea of putting containers in front of the leggier plants. The mix of heights and colours is lovely. I actually quite like that topiary! I have never seen one like that and think it certainly is silly, but fun!

  2. The tapestry effect is just what I love too. The late summer borders at Great Dixter are wonderful. Great photos.
    I am with you about topiary, especially these poor yews. Never mind silly, they look slightly obscene to me.

    • Obscene, huh? I’ll have to give them another look. But I wouldn’t repeat that, it could lead to a resurgence in topiary popularity.

  3. Beautiful gardens. I love container gardening – it causes my pulse to quicken. Except I don’t like the amount of water it takes to keep them flourishing. So, I’ve basically given up most of my containers in favor of planters creatively placed somewhat in the ground so they don’t require as much watering. Sad but true.

  4. What delicious borders, overflowing with colour and charm. I loved the arches and the steps up them too, and the dogs mosaics.xxx

  5. What I found most unexpected but interesting was to see teasel (Dipsacus) in the middle of the border! Of course I can see why. It has a very architectural shape. I hope it does not selfseed ferociously. It is considered an invasive species in the US.

    • Yes, the teasel is very striking. I have seen it planted at the Chicago Botanic Garden here, but otherwise I don’t think I have seen it in gardens or in the wild.

  6. Wow, you saw a lot of great gardens while you were in France and
    England. I agree–those splashes of color along the paver pathway are magical!

  7. Interesting words, Jason :”no gaps, showing bare earth” So I have to work more in my garden! I love your photos, particularly of flower borders!

  8. It goes without saying that the planting is all exciting and full just as Christo would have wanted but what your wonderful photos show is the fantastic structure of the beautiful walls, steps and paths I think all designed by Lutyens.

  9. Lovely photos. In general, I like topiary, but I agree the topiary garden at GDix is disappointing. Not enough whimsy, variety, or under planting to make it lively. I don’t think they are really trying, do you? The hedges, however, are fabulous and a great compliment to the herbaceous plants.

  10. I have two books by C. Lloyd that are in my reading pile. He and I agree on so many things except those topiaries. They just seem so pointless and bizarre. I love his enthusiastic approach to gardening. But his advice to leave no ground uncovered has to be tempered in the humid southeast. Sometimes a little breathing room is the difference between a happy garden bed and a mildewy one.

    • Ah, good point. We have some of that humidity as well, but the summer is not quite as long and hot here. Also I avoid plants that have a big mildew problem, with some exceptions, notably Monarda. And I just accept that at a certain point in the year they will be covered in downy mildew.

  11. Another great post Jason, you have captured Great Dixter very well, I like the Topiaries, even though a bit bizarre, they look sturdy and stout and quietly confident. I can see that someone spends a great deal of time clipping and shaping them, so a thumbs up from me. Looking forward to the next instalment!

  12. I added brick to my hardscapes as I love the look although the English do it so well. Seeing the native teasel in its habitat is wonderful as I eradicate it from my garden.

  13. I love the photos, especially on a day with awful weather. I can’t wait for my gardens to be lush again. I also love container gardens, would like to start one on the deck this year.

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