Part of the reason Great Dixter made such an impression on me was perhaps because it was the first formal English garden I’ve ever seen. Reading up on it a bit, I learned that it is an example of a garden in the Arts and Crafts style. Another example of this style is Sissinghurst, which you can take a tour of by visiting Pam’s post about Sissinghurst over at Digging. Pam’s got a whole bunch of posts from her recent tour of English Gardens — you should definitely check it out!
The more formal areas of Great Dixter’s gardens are the Blue Garden, the Wall Garden, The Sunk Garden and adjacent Barn Garden, and the famous Long Border.
Leaving the Loggia above the Topiary Moat, you enter the Blue Garden.
Yes that green surface on the ground is actual lawn. It looked nearly unreal to my Southern California eyes, and in comparison to How many of the lawns in Britain look this summer. (But more on that in an upcoming post about my visit to Kew).
A few steps in the corner of the Blue Garden bring you to an arched entryway to the Wall Garden beyond…
… which features a dazzling display of potted plants arranged around a courtyard with an elaborate stone mosaic portrait of Christopher Lloyd’s dachshunds. I spent a lot of time here, just admiring the plant combinations.
It sounds silly, but I recall gasping out load as I walked in to the Sunk and adjacent Barn Gardens, the burst of color and texture was just that amazing. Note I took a few of these later in the day (my second pass through) after it brightened up a little. So if the light suddenly looks different, that’s why.
This might be a formal garden, but here the formal edges are overtaken by the exuberance of the plants, weighed down with rain, bowing in to the paths (and each other).
Above is a shot of the Barn Garden. You might start to notice in these pictures how all these layers and layers of plants, colors, textures feels… not just informal but experimental. Despite this being a managed, Charitable Trust property since 2003, it still feels very much like a gardener’s garden.
The Sunk Garden features an octagonal pond with water lilies, which is down and to the left of the picture above.
Next… the Long Border.