On Saturday it was the Great Dixter plant sale. I have never visited Dixter so early in the season, generally visiting for the tulips in late spring, and again in the summer, for the dahlias and annuals.
Great Dixter (in East Sussex but near the border with Kent) was the home of the late Christopher Lloyd, and is now orchestrated by his collaborator Fergus Garrett. The gardens are known for exuberant colour through the seasons, tropical, jungly, lush plantings, stagings of bulb theatres, Lutyens landscaping, topiary in and amongst wildflower meadows, and sausage dogs.
This was also an opportunity to meet a few fellow garden bloggers for cake.
It was a sunshine-and-showers sort of a day, but luckily, far more sunshine than showers. This is the view as you enter the gardens:
It’s the first of many meadows, currently filled with wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and a smattering of snakeshead fritillaries (Fritillaria milleagris).
I forgot to mention the house. It is part 15th Century, with another 15th Century house moved (yes moved) from nearby Benenden in 1910, and the two joined together.
I am used to seeing a profusion of colour here, but today there were pots of conifers, organically spilling from the house and clipped (box? yew? I forgot to examine!) I’m going to go for box.
But don’t worry, because there were glorious spillages of colour. Like here:
Two varieties kept catching my eye. First this dark Muscari (sorry, label just said ‘Muscari’):
And then this Tulip ‘Light and Dreamy’. I had to google this one, because the label appeared to say ‘Luyhtond Dneamy’. Thank you to the couple puzzling over the label who were able to interpret the ‘dreamy’ bit.
After a quick coffee, we perused the stalls at the plant fair,
and caressed some reconditioned garden tools.
Then we scampered off to the gardens for a bit. It is not quite tulip time, but there was this one, ‘Orange Emperor’:
In a couple of weeks, this part of the high garden will be a sea of tulips. Which is why I bought an annual pass (it’s your turn next time, mum!)
Because the last time I visited Dixter was high summer, I was amazed to find it looking so low-to-the-ground. This seems obvious now: much of the planting is herbaceous perennials, annuals, bulbs and tubers, so of course it would be low-to-the-ground in April. Here is the long border, on the cusp of bursting with tulips:
I sometimes worry about the lack of structure in my flowerbeds, but if it works for Dixter, it works for me. Also interesting is the way the planting areas are laid out with bamboo canes:
I’m guessing there is going to be a lot of support needed for the lush growth to come. By June this will be towering over visitors’ heads. The sense of enclosure and having to part curtains of flowers and foliage is what I love about Dixter.
Speaking of structure, look at the surgical trussing here, in the Exotic Garden:
I’m guessing that there is a tree fern or banana in there, mummified in straw. Imagine the trepidation of unwrapping it! Like the tension in the Blue Peter studio when the tortoises were disinterred.
Still on structure, we have to do the barn.
And views of the house, moat and oasts:
Is this where I get my love of wobbly lines?
I would share a picture of garden bloggers eating cake, but that wasn’t taken on my phone. The sun came out and it was warm enough to peel back the layers. Which is how it felt visiting Dixter in early spring.
I will be back in a couple of weeks to chart the change.