Great Dixter’s garden plan

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House and long border

The summer days are moving into autumn, and while I was taking friends round the changing gardens at Great Dixter in Northiam, questions inevitably arose about both the way the garden was looking on that particular day and how it was set up in the winter and spring.

At the moment, the garden overflows with plants and flowers, the borders and the paths merging into one another, the shrubs and trees just beginning to show the autumn colour. Different people like different styles of gardening and this mellow abundance is not to everyone’s taste.

Pots in September

What seems to be missing here is any understanding of the work that goes on in the winter to achieve the effects seen now. Spring brings the under planted bulbs into bloom, for example, whole areas of the garden will be emptied of annual and biennial plants, the colours and forms of the plants will be completely revised, so what is seen now will not be there next year.

To show how this work starts, look at this picture of the plants growing in the nursery, waiting to be planted out, the high border emptied and tidied for a complete rethink by the head gardener Fergus Garrett and his team, the compost stacks ready to be cut and spread.

Planting for spring

There is nothing simple or unplanned, and it is this attention to detail that gives the wonderful overflowing glory of this always experimental garden, where learning by all the gardeners, not just the horticultural students, contributes to the whole.

Winter is one of the busiest times here, with hedge cutting starting now and continuing through the colder season, the meadows mown and spread so the seeds are released into the ground, and the planning for laying out new planting in progress.

Come and see for yourselves. You may have mixed feelings about the garden or you may love it at first sight, but never underestimate the work, planning and sheer love that makes this garden so great.

If you would like to know more about Great Dixter House and Garden in Northiam, East Sussex, please go to the website, which gives accurate information on opening times and the many events that take place here. How about the Dachshund Fun Show this Sunday September 29 from 11am to 1pm and see dachshund dashes, agility and best six legs  … and the garden!

Image Credits: Gillian Roder .

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