Garden Portrait: Great Dixter

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd – it was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is a historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.



Open from April to the end of October, the nursery is open all year round.


Entrance, Peacock Garden and High Garden

The gardens surround the house and buildings so if you make a circuit of the gardens you will have made a circuit of the house. Each garden has a view of others. I made my way anti-clockwise from the entrance, passing through the meadow garden, which was over in July, and on to the lawn in front of the lovely 15th or 16th century timber-framed house. To the left of the porch as you face the house Edwin Lutyens combined a 16th century yeoman’s house moved from Benenden in 1910 with the original building to create what is now Great Dixter. Climbing up the steps into the Peacock Topiary and High Garden you are immediately struck by the mass of planting threatening to hide the paths that lead you through the garden. The paths form a cross and central area where you can take in the roofline of the house and its imposing chimneys.

 The Long Border

The Long Border is divided from the meadow and orchard by a flagstone path and a narrow mowed strip of lawn. Plants are crammed in so that no patches of bare earth can be seen and flowers sprawl over the path softening the edges. It is a border designed for mid-June to mid-August with a simple Lutyens seat at one end. Tall plants are allowed at the front of the border as long as an open texture allows you to see behind, the tall Verbascum are valued for their tall narrow stature.

The Exotic Garden

From the Long Border walk down the circular Lutyens steps, partially shaded by a huge mulberry tree and covered in Erigeron karvinskianus and across to the Exotic Garden.  Once a cattle-yard, then a rose garden it is now filled with fairly hardy foliage plants for a tropical effect.  Dahlias and cannas add spectacular colour.



The Blue Garden, the Walled Garden and the Sunken Garden


The Blue Garden is a small space between the topiary lawn and the Walled Garden. Lutyens steps lead through to the walled garden which is paved with  a mosaic of two dachshunds, Dahlia and Canna that belonged to Christopher Lloyd. Continue through this colourful space – with many terracotta pots – into the Barn Garden which borders the Sunk Garden.

Dachshund Mosaic



The Solar Garden


The largest single area of bedding, is in the Solar garden, next to the old bay tree and facing the front of the house. Behind you can see the barn and the Oast house.


 We’ve come full circle now, though I haven’t shown you everything that this garden has to offer. I think it may take more than one visit to absorb everything that Great Dixter contains, and I never even went inside that beautiful house.

  • Street:  Great Dixter
  • Postcode:  TN31 6PH
  • City:  Northiam
  • County:  Sussex
  • Country: United Kingdom

20 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Great Dixter

  1. “take more than one visit” is an understatement! There’s almost more beauty there than I can comprehend. And the early photo of shelves lined with empty terra cotta pots – those always make my fingers teitch with possibilities 🙂 just gorgeous, Jude – I’ll be looking at this post for days!

    • It was so hot on this day Sammy that I ran out of energy to take photos! So much more to explore than I have shown. It is a garden to go back to in different seasons. I have never seen so much packed into each space as here. Oh, yes, those pots are delightful – it is a good job that I don’t have space for anything else or I would have spent a small fortune in the nursery!

      • The August heat here saps me in a different way than “summer” heat. I know what you mean about limitations of room – VERY small, fully packed perennial flower bed and room for 4 pots on porch -all full – yet I’m salivating as I drive by the local garden shops advertising their end-of-season sales. It’s an addiction I conquer only if I don’t set foot in the first!!

  2. I went there when Christopher Lloyd was still alive and bough the most beautiful scented clematis. Unfortunately it became the victim of my ex’s strimmer too many times and I lost it, wish I could find the same variety!

  3. A wonderful verbal encapsulation of what Dixter is in the first paragraph.

    What did I especially enjoy? The delicacy, simplicity and colour of the shrub roses. The line of chimney pots. The great slabs of roof in the background of the sunken garden. The curve of steps down from the arch. The scattering of photos (the first one and the fuschia) you’ve done something to for a painterly effect (I think). The unexpected appearance of eucalyptus leaves. The double cosmos – I didn’t know such a creature existed.

    I’m eager to see the meadow garden at its peak, so you’ll have to make another visit. Are you a fan of houses as well as gardens?

    • It is an astonishing garden. So full of flowers that it is impossible to see them all. I’d love to go back in spring and yes, I do like visiting the houses too, but usually the garden gets my attention.

  4. Mick loves Christopher Lloyd. I see why now. Our planting rambles everywhere and I’m often tempted to sneak out with the secateurs. Dixter does it beautifully but I’m not sure that ours is such a success. I suppose we’d be selling tickets if it was (and I’d have to do cream teas) 🙂

  5. Hey Jude, I am once again overwhelmed at the connections and overlapping interests on the blogosphere. Thank you so much for point me towards your BEYOND BEAUTIFUL blog. I am thrilled to find you, really! YAY!!!

    • Thanks for the compliment Barbara – if you search you will find a post or two on Sissinghurst and the White Garden. Glad to have you following my flora passion (my main blog is a travel / photo one and links from my avatar) and I am sure I shall be visiting you often too 🙂

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