Our Favorite English Garden in September, Part 3 (Or, Anarchy in the UK)

After swooning over the Long Border, the next area we walked through was the Orchard Garden and the High Garden. I’m treating them as a single unit for two reasons. First, I’m not completely sure which pictures were taken in which garden. And second, to me both gardens had the same sense of joyful anarchy. It was an anarchy that was exciting but also possessed a rhythm that staved off total chaos

2013-09-14 07.29.02 great dixter yew arch

As I’ve said, I’m not fond of yews, but I do like yew archways that provide a transition from one garden room to another. This would be the entrance to the Orchard Garden.

2013-09-14 07.30.47 great dixter goldenrod

Is this fantastic or what? I like how the boxwood seems to be struggling to hold back the energetic flowers.

2013-09-14 07.31.20 great dixter yew arch

Here’s another yew arch. You can’t have too many of these, in my opinion. If only they didn’t grow so slowly I’d plant a couple of yews where I could prune them into an arch myself.

2013-09-14 07.32.07 great dixter

Here is that joyful anarchy for you. I love how the last blooms of the yellow Oenothera are scattered about. I can’t remember what that plant is behind the yellow Helenium. Anybody know?

2013-09-14 07.33.07 great dixter yew hedge

These are yew hedges with a difference. I like the sloping sides, so much more interesting than tight right angles. The calming and structural presence of the yews was one of the things that prevented this part of Great Dixter’s garden anarchy from spinning out of control.

2013-09-14 07.32.31 great dixter

Not sure what this grass is, but it’s nice, isn’t it?

2013-09-14 07.33.36 great dixter yew arch

OK, this is the last yew arch, I promise. This one I remember leads into the High Garden. It’s an especially fine one, I think. And the stone steps are beautiful.

2013-09-14 07.34.10 great dixter

Here’s a quote from Christopher Lloyd: “The borders are mixed, not herbaceous. I see no point in segregating plants of different habits or habit. They can all help one another.”

2013-09-14 07.39.36 great dixter

I really love this pear tree, its branches gnarled like the hands of an old man, and covered in lichens.

2013-09-14 07.34.25 great dixter

This looks like they decided to plant a Christmas tree in the border.

2013-09-14 07.34.59 great dixter

The Agastache and asters look great with the yellow dahlias. This garden makes me wonder why it is that I don’t grow dahlias.

2013-09-14 07.36.20 great dixter

No shortage of late summer color or height.

2013-09-14 07.43.08 great dixter

Conifers mix happily with annuals and perennials.

2013-09-14 07.38.28 great dixter

From the High Garden you can see the house. The chimneys seem to echo the height of the sunflowers and Joe Pye Weed. What is that truly enormous grass?

This garden made me consider if I too am a garden anarchist. I definitely have those tendencies, though perhaps not to the extent found at Great Dixter (I probably spend too much time staking).

What about you, do you consider yourself a garden anarchist?

32 Comments on “Our Favorite English Garden in September, Part 3 (Or, Anarchy in the UK)

  1. I have a split personality when it comes to garden anarchy. I have OCD tendencies that prefer order and balance with straight lines and right angles, but I really also love the look of a full to bursting, blowsy, really well put together cottage border. That plant with the fluffy pink flowers behind the yellow Helenium might be Filipendula rubra.

    • For me gardening and OCD go together like bread and butter. I think you do have to have some order among the anarchy. At Great Dixter it’s the hedges that serve that function.

  2. I think I am a bit of an anarchist. Though I try to think of colour and height and so on, I still like the beds to be a little wild.
    Beautiful pictures, and a garden I like as well.
    The tall grass must be a Miscanthus.

  3. I agree with Gitte that the very tall grass is a Miscanthus probably gigantea; the other grass looks like Calamagrostis agutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’. Dixter really shows what I love about box and yew – thier ability to be the perfect contrast to the texture and exuberance of the plants aound them. If you’d really like a yew arch they aren’t that slow growing if watered and fed well.

    • I agree with you about box and yew at Great Dixter – but why do they seem to be used that way so infrequently? It seems like more often I see fussly little boxwood hedges 18″ high or, worst of all, yew foundation plantings sheared off at about 4′.

  4. You’re so full of passion and enthusiasm today, Jason, delightful! I like a bit of anarchy alright in the garden, and we should never be led to believe we’re in control anyway. I would have thought the plant is a plume poppy (Macleaya cordata) but then again, it’s hard to see on the picture.

    • I’m not at all familiar with plume poppy. I can see that it might be Queen of the Prairie. Ultimately all our garden plans can always be upended by nature, but in normal conditions there are some tightly controlled gardens (think Versailles). To me they lack life and spontaneity.

      • Absolutely, and people who feel the urge to be in control in such a harsh way scare me rather.

  5. The grass toward the end looks like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’…and the tall plant behind the Helenium could be Filipendula rubra (as Alison said) or maybe even late-season Persicaria polymorpha, which blooms white, but fades to a rusty color in autumn…both would look good in your garden 🙂

  6. Definitely an anarchist and the wilder the better for me, but its all underpinned with careful staking, so some ordered tendencies too! Lovely photos and descriptions of your visit. I know what you mean about the Dahlias, I only grow one or two and they look much better en masse.

  7. These are my favourite photos of dixter so far. I really do love that energetic and dynamic mix of plants, especially the grasses and the oenethera dotted around. Dahlias brighten up borders later in the year but the slugs love them here. If I had the space I would have flower beds like those too!

  8. I hope I’m an anarchist. I love to read about the rules but don’t feel the compelled to follow. The arches really have me thinking about trying to add something similar, but I’m not very patient. Dahlias might be fun to try this year.

  9. I think that gardens on the whole are showing more anarchy. Great Dixter is a case in point. I think it was more regimented under Christopher Lloyd but is now more relaxed under Fergus Garrett. I like anarchy as long as there is some framework to hold it.

  10. Love it love it love it! I guess I’m a garden anarchist as well. You should give dahlias a try – I’ll bet they’d be great in your late summer garden. Oddly enough, they conk out in extreme heat, so I don’t even attempt them.

  11. I could have looked at those yew arches all day, absolutely fantastic. I’m a huge fan of yew and often find seedlings growing in the garden, there must be a large tree somewhere close by. I have one yew planted in the back, it’s about four foot and has taken six years to get there! Wonderful post, I did enjoy it.xxx

  12. Absolutely! Anything goes as long as it makes me happy is my mantra. Gardens that are overly structured, penned in, and micromanaged really bother me. They feel so controlled and miserable. I need freedom and exuberance. I think I would feel right at home at Dixter.

  13. I like gardens that look natural and a question I ask myself is, if all evidence of man were removed from this garden would it look natural? I think this one might.
    I wish I knew where he got those thin bricks under the stone stair treads. Or maybe they’re terra cotta tiles.

  14. I won’t call myself an anarchist, but there’s a lot of liberalism in my garden. I always feel like you can get away with a lot as long as the grass is mown and edged. Even when it’s just dandelions and clover, as long as it’s edged you can almost roll a golf ball down the middle.
    Maybe that also explains my hedging obsession. Deep down inside I know I’ll never make the cut with my hit or miss flowers, but at least if I trim up the hedges that should make things look ten times better.
    I admire your resistance to the lure of dahlias. I cracked a long time ago and am considering even more this spring….

      • I do, and I hate bothering with it, but it is relatively easy. The lazy side of me needs to be dragged along until August when I can finally sit back with a smug grin looking at the blooms 🙂

  15. These are beautiful. I love the way they use the yew architecturally…and I can see why you loved these gardens…so much color and mystery around the corners and up the stairs.

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