Gardens: Imitating the Great – Dixter and Christopher

Finally managed to buy the cornus controversa variegata. Around 4 foot tall and slow growing so we’ve been informed, so not to expect a show for some time yet. It already has some  branches that should fan out but we will need to do a little shaping and remove those branches which go straight up. That said, we are happy with purchase and have planted it in the central bed of grasses.

We had to move some grasses around though as the stipa didn’t flower this year and we think it wasn’t getting enough sun now the pergola has filled out and so moved it to a sunnier position and this enabled us to move another grass which would have blocked the cornus from sight to the stipa’s place. B. We also removed some of the sedum as that took up vital space for the grasses. We tried to create a view onto the cornus from the front so we could see it from the patio.

So you are asking – why did want the cornus? Perhaps the name is not familiar to you. Well, it is also known as the wedding cake tree. The branches – with a little encouragement grow in a circle around the trunk and then in spring they are covered in a multitude of white frothy blossoms – so it just looks like layers of pinky white. Foliage is a beautiful mid green with broad creamy white margins turning shades of reddish purple in the autumn. Wonderful. And doesn’t grow too big either and likes a nice sunny position. Jim fell in love with this tree when we saw it in full blossom in a garden we visited and so we had to have it. It certainly makes a better centrepiece that the Amanagowa – which being tall and spindly doesn’t… The Amanagowa that used to live in the centre now has gone to Margaret who sells plants for charity and the garden club. I hope it goes to a good home!

One of my favourite garden authors – Christopher Lloyd – who has a fabulous garden – Great Dixter – (I should say ‘had’ as he is dead but the garden lives on as a Trust in his name, run by the great Fergus Garrett now], is quoted as saying ‘To the endlessly repeated questions – when is your garden at its best? – one of the most common replies is – on the 9th of July.

Great Dixter – how shall I describe this? Well it was one of the inspirations for me to try and grow some Camassia as I saw them first en masse in his lawns and thought they were stunning when grown like that. So I now have some by the front pond and am hoping to grow more from seed – I also scattered some of their seed around them so…

The garden takes inspiration from Gertrude Jekyll whom Christopher actually met as a child – so there’s a good reason for me to like it! I am obsessed with her gardens and style of gardening and choice of plants. I’ve been to nearly all her gardens that are open to the public here in the UK. I keep finding there is an odd one missed but… Christopher has had all his articles from the Guardian newspaper collected into a great book – Cuttings – a year in the Garden with Christopher Lloyd. One of my favourite garden books. He says ‘ferns give wings to a garden’ and I have emulated Great Dixter in planting a great many ferns around and about – some for dry shade, others for damp and so on..

He doesn’t like black plants much but I quite like some and am hoping that my black aquilegia will flower next Spring again – they are looking quite healthy at the moment, underplanted by black iris – so there Christopher! I have had the pleasure of hearing Fergus Garrett talk too and bought some plants off him when we visited Great Dixter so touched by greatness – a little.

Great Dixter gardens

Great Dixter gardens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now we had to put a date on when we would open for the Yellow Book this year – and we actually wanted a week earlier! But so close… we want to try and be open when the Ceanothus Pallida are in flower. They open later than the standard blue varieties and if you catch them just right they are a mass of frothy pink flowers.

Ceanothus Pallida Marie Rose in our garden

And then there’s the Vielchenblau rose too – it only flowers once but by Jove what wonderful flowers – especially if the Polish Purple clematis flowers all through it in contrasting colours of lilac and deep purple.

Pergola and Vielchenblau Rose: our Garden

I counted the number of clematis I had the other day as I have so many tucked away that are not flowering when visitors come and found that there are over 30! I then created a list with all the clematis named and a picture of their flowers from the garden catalogues. Really quite important especially as two new young shoots appeared this week and I couldn’t remember when I had ordered them and what they would like! Oops… so I looked them up this morning. Nice ones I must say: clematis Aromatica and clematis Flammula.

Clematis flammula

Clematis flammula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 thoughts on “Gardens: Imitating the Great – Dixter and Christopher

  1. Pingback: Bumbles – earlies! Clematis and nectar. « tiggerrenewing

  2. Pingback: Beauty in Purple « abdulmanaf photography

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