If I’m ever fantasising about inheriting millions from a rich relative I never knew existed (I don’t do the lottery, hence the need for a dead family member) I know EXACTLY what I’m going to spend the money on. As soon as the cheque has cleared I’m heading down to Great Dixter to negotiate the purchase of the house and beautiful gardens (complete with gardening staff, including genius head gardener Fergus Garrett).
In reality, I am restricted to visiting the place and just pretending, as I wander around the shaggy borders full of dramatic colour and structure, that it’s mine. Apart from the unusual colours and plant combinations, I think the best bit is the porch, which is massive and always has a small selection of veg for sale -which you can buy by popping money in the honesty box- as well as details of what flowers are in bloom. This week it’s all about tulips.
In my dreams, after buying the house, I would potter around the garden by day, dead heading and chatting to the gardeners and then spend the afternoon displaying the best fruit and veg in the porch to show to visiting friends. I know this is sad, but it makes me happy.
There is a great plant nursery at the house which I’ve been buying from for a couple of years, every plant I’ve bought has both survived and generated comment, they always grow bright ,strong and often unusual colours of a species . If you are a keen gardener and haven’t yet been I’d urge you to go, the house is much admired too but it’s the gardens that make my heart sing.
Although not much is flowering at this time of year apart from tulips, the freshly open greens and evergreens looked fabulous against each other.
Great Dixter was owned and run by Christopher Lloyd until his death in 2006, it is now run by a trust and Fergus Garrett continues as head gardener. Mr Lloyd wrote great gardening books on how to achieve his bold, clashing bright borders and one of my favourite ‘grown in the garden’ cookery books Gardener Cook. There are brilliant gardening courses and study days run throughout the year which are highly regarded.
To visit Great Dixter, which is in Sussex not far from Rye, check the website here for details of opening times.