A look around the garden at great Dixter, Sussex.

Image of the house at Great Dixter showing the main entrance with windows above. The building appears to be leaning to the left.
Galvanised watering cans on and around a large water tank fed from a rusty downpipe off a terracota tiled roof.

Great Dixter is a house and garden in Northiam, Sussex which was the home of Christopher Lloyd OBE, a celebrated garden designer and author. The garden is famous for it's use of colour in its planting, often with, what appear to me, to be clashing colours. The room above the porch (the wonky one with the open windows) was Christopher's bedroom from where he could look out over the garden on three sides. Much more about the house and gardens can be found on Great Dixter's own website here.

Lights out!

Image of a long flower border with a path to one side and Great Dixter House in the background. Tulips and yellow and bronze shrubs are visible.
Image of three oasts above a red brick building against a blue sky.

The house has the appearance of a medieval manor house but is not quite what it seems. Christopher Lloyd's father, Nathanial bought the original mid 15th century house in 1909 and had it combined with another of his properties, a 16th Century house, which was moved to the site from Benenden in neighbouring Kent. The amalgamation and extension of the property was designed by architect Edwin Lutyens. Nathanial and Lutyens began the garden but it was Christopher who was born at the house in 1921 who made it famous and what it is today.

Image of an open sided barn with an oak timber framed roof and terracota roof tiles visible. Supporting pillars made from mortar and tiles.
Image of tiles laid with mortar to form the supporting pillars.
Image of underside of roof tiles held on laths with oak pegs.

I like to visit Dixter because its not just another garden; it is also a fascinating collection of out buildings with exposed timber frames and interesting use of materials such as what appear to be roof tiles used in the pillars for the barn. The image on the right above is the roof tiles in situ, held in place on the laths by small oak pegs. Roof tiles have been used in the building structures and in the paths at various locations.

Image of Great Dixter house with flower beds with bright yellow and oragnge tulips amongst green and white.

I said that the garden is known for its bonkers colours and here in April drifts of tulips prove the rule. This image may look over saturated, but on a bright spring day the tulips really are that bold; sticking out like like beacons amongst the fresh spring green.

Image of Great Dixter House with flower beds dominated by Ferula tingitana, Cedric Morris.

The same view a month later. The tulips have gone and the tall fennel Ferula tingitana "Cedric Morris" is in full flower.

Image of a topiary yew hedge representing a Peacock form.
Image of a topiary yew hedge representing a Peacock form. Bright yellow and orange tulips in the foreground.

In parts the garden is very traditional with topiary yew hedges. These are peacocks, apparently; I have to confess that I thought the ones on the left were teapots.

Image of Gunnera manicata in young growth showing the thorny stems and barely open leaves.
Image of Skunk cabbage or Lysichiton americanum growing in the margins of the lower moat. Large yellow flower spikes rising from green leaves.

Here the Gunnera manicata is starting to take off in the boggy margins of the lower moat and the yellow flower spikes of the Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) just ready to open.

Image dempstrating the topiray mirroring the building shapes.
Image of three large plant pots containg blue forget-me-knots with topiary hedge and three white Oast towers rising behind.

Some of the yew hedge topiary deliberately "echoes the shapes of the buildings in the background" (Christopher Lloyd's own description).

Image of stone steps between topiary Yew hedges with twisted wrought iron railings on one side.
Image of rusty iron railing with decorative twist.

Here are those roof tiles again supporting the stone steps. I like the way the railings have been left to rust adding yet more colour, rather than painting them black.

Image of pots of plants on a walled area paved with flint, tiles laid on edge and stone flags.
Image of tiles laid on edge forming part of the floor of the walled garden.
Image of pots containg brightly coloured flowers in the walled garden. Greens, yellows, pinks, reds and white all mixed together.

One of the many inspiring aspects of Dixter is the use of pots to fill in spaces at every opportunity. One trick that we have picked up from Dixter is that often only the pots at the front are decorative terracotta, those behind and out of site are black plastic, often standing on bricks to give them more height. And there's those roof tiles again.

Image of the sloping roof of the Great Barn over the wooden lap boarded walls and leaded windows.

Talking of roof tiles, at some point Dixter must have had a glut of them because they are everywhere in the structures of the garden and the buildings as well as on the extensive roofs. The roofs are certainly extensive as this one over The Great Barn exemplifies. Now there's a project; how many tiles are there at Great Dixter?

Image of an open door to the potting shed. On the door is a hand written sign saying "PLEASE LEAVE DOOR OPEN SWALLOWS NESTING".
A jumble of pots falling out of a low brick building with a tiled roof. A hand written sign on one side of the building says BLACKBIRD NESTING"
Image of an open door to the potting shed. On the door is a hand written sign saying "PLEASE LEAVE DOOR OPEN SWALLOWS NESTING".
A jumble of pots falling out of a low brick building with a tiled roof. A hand written sign on one side of the building says BLACKBIRD NESTING"

Birds nesting in inconvenient places but happily accommodated by the Dixter Garden staff. The pot store looks like an old pig sty; looks like those pots need a bit of a sort to me.

Image of old and worn scaffolding boards neatly leaning against one end of the timber frames of the barn wall.
Image of a sawn logs in a log pile with a traditional bessom broom leaning against them.

Sneaking around the barns reveals another world. The boards used when working on the borders to avoid compacting the soil and a wonderful log pile with traditional broom. It was very dark in the log store, please forgive the noise. There are also a number of chairs and stools around, some of which are made on site using traditional methods, materials and tools.

The beauty of wood. I assume this is destined for one of those traditional benches or stools.

Image of a narrow brick path winding through yellow buttercups in the orchard meadow.
Image of a path cut through long grass of wild flowers in the Prarie garden leading a narrow wooden gate with fields beyond.
Image of long grass peppered with yellow buttercups and Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula) in the orchard.
Image of an early purple orchid

There are 19 different "gardens", or garden areas, or "rooms" at Great Dixter garden. I have barely scratched the surface here and seem to have concentrated more on the hard structures becuase that's what I find most photogenic. Here we see the extensive meadow in what was once an orchard. There are a number of different native Orchids, one of which can be seen above growing in profusion.  I think that this one is Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) which grows on chalk grassland.

Image of a tall heap of dead vegetation with a ten rung wooden ladder barely reaching the top. One rung near the bottom of the ladder is missing

Now that's what I call a compost heap. There are two of these in the vegetable garden and a number of others around the site. Given the size, I wonder if they ever use any home made compost or prefer to import compost from an external source.

Entrance to the shop with signs saying "Please Ring Bell LOUDLY For Attention" and "OPEN". Rows of plants and pots for sale also visible.
Image of a nearly full water tank draining from a greenhouse roof. A grey galvanised watering can in the foreground.
Image of rows of plants for sale supported by canes with gravel path between and oast house and buildings beyond.
Image of plants with white labels in neat rows from the foreground to the middle distance with the buildings of Great Dixter beyond.

Inevitably there is a nursery, shop and small outdoor cafe area. These are all well worth a visit. All the plants in the nursery are cultivated from the garden stock and small potted versions of most things that you see in the garden are available to purchase. I am always fascinated to see how busy the staff are pottering around the nursery; potting on, taking cuttings, replacing stock or watering.

Image of the house at Great Dixter showing the main entrance with windows above. The building appears to be leaning to the left.
Galvanised watering cans on and around a large water tank fed from a rusty downpipe off a terracota tiled roof.
Image of a long flower border with a path to one side and Great Dixter House in the background. Tulips and yellow and bronze shrubs are visible.
Image of three oasts above a red brick building against a blue sky.
Image of an open sided barn with an oak timber framed roof and terracota roof tiles visible. Supporting pillars made from mortar and tiles.
Image of tiles laid with mortar to form the supporting pillars.
Image of underside of roof tiles held on laths with oak pegs.
Image of Great Dixter house with flower beds with bright yellow and oragnge tulips amongst green and white.
Image of Great Dixter House with flower beds dominated by Ferula tingitana, Cedric Morris.
Image of a topiary yew hedge representing a Peacock form.
Image of a topiary yew hedge representing a Peacock form. Bright yellow and orange tulips in the foreground.
Image of Gunnera manicata in young growth showing the thorny stems and barely open leaves.
Image of Skunk cabbage or Lysichiton americanum growing in the margins of the lower moat. Large yellow flower spikes rising from green leaves.
Image dempstrating the topiray mirroring the building shapes.
Image of three large plant pots containg blue forget-me-knots with topiary hedge and three white Oast towers rising behind.
Image of stone steps between topiary Yew hedges with twisted wrought iron railings on one side.
Image of rusty iron railing with decorative twist.
Image of pots of plants on a walled area paved with flint, tiles laid on edge and stone flags.
Image of tiles laid on edge forming part of the floor of the walled garden.
Image of pots containg brightly coloured flowers in the walled garden. Greens, yellows, pinks, reds and white all mixed together.
Image of the sloping roof of the Great Barn over the wooden lap boarded walls and leaded windows.
Image of old and worn scaffolding boards neatly leaning against one end of the timber frames of the barn wall.
Image of a sawn logs in a log pile with a traditional bessom broom leaning against them.
Image of an open door to the potting shed. On the door is a hand written sign saying "PLEASE LEAVE DOOR OPEN SWALLOWS NESTING".
A jumble of pots falling out of a low brick building with a tiled roof. A hand written sign on one side of the building says BLACKBIRD NESTING"
Image of an open door to the potting shed. On the door is a hand written sign saying "PLEASE LEAVE DOOR OPEN SWALLOWS NESTING".
A jumble of pots falling out of a low brick building with a tiled roof. A hand written sign on one side of the building says BLACKBIRD NESTING"
Image of a narrow brick path winding through yellow buttercups in the orchard meadow.
Image of a path cut through long grass of wild flowers in the Prarie garden leading a narrow wooden gate with fields beyond.
Image of long grass peppered with yellow buttercups and Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula) in the orchard.
Image of an early purple orchid
Image of a tall heap of dead vegetation with a ten rung wooden ladder barely reaching the top. One rung near the bottom of the ladder is missing
Entrance to the shop with signs saying "Please Ring Bell LOUDLY For Attention" and "OPEN". Rows of plants and pots for sale also visible.
Image of a nearly full water tank draining from a greenhouse roof. A grey galvanised watering can in the foreground.
Image of rows of plants for sale supported by canes with gravel path between and oast house and buildings beyond.
Image of plants with white labels in neat rows from the foreground to the middle distance with the buildings of Great Dixter beyond.