The Gardener’s Garden: Great Dixter

A private tour of the quintessentially English estate


High on the list of garden pilgrimages is Great Dixter, the passion project of the late “imperial wizard” of English horticulture, Christopher Lloyd. The audacious gardener and celebrated writer’s Edwyn Lutyens-designed manor house, open to the public for nearly six decades, launches the first episode of NOWNESS’s weekly Great Gardens series, here captured by photographer and filmmaker Howard Sooley. “Christo was like Paddington Bear with teeth,” reflects Sooley, who first visited Great Dixter in 1989 through friend, co-gardener and filmmaker Derek Jarman. Located in England’s East Sussex countryside, the semi-formal grounds, now under the stewardship of head gardener Fergus Garrett, are an exercise in planned imperfection, with imaginatively topiaried yew hedges and Yorkstone paving providing the framework for the seasonally changing tapestry of vibrant colors, bold form and spirited texture. The garden is in constant flux and “the planting schemes are different every year”, says Garrett, who is at pains to emphasize that Great Dixter has a purpose even beyond the noble aim of giving pleasure to its countless visitors. “We could quite easily run the place on just three gardeners,” he explains. “But then we wouldn’t be able to teach. We are here to pass on knowledge, and people sometimes forget that.”–Lee C. Wallick

Your local Willoughby florist providing you with some inspiration.

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