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Posts Tagged ‘Lutyens’

Great Dixter!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

And Great it truly is!

Great Dixter is known the world over as a place of pilgrimage for horticulturalists.

It was the family home of Christopher Lloyd, journalist and world re-knowned gardener himself, who worked so hard to make it the magnet it is today.

His parents Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd bought the property in 1910, from Sarah Springett.

At the time the house was a shadow of its current granduer. Nathaniel had a vision for it and he hired the great architect of his time, Edwin Lutyens and his team to transform the building. Quite how he pulled this off is a mystery, as the young Lutyens was in great demand. Although closer inspection of the actual transformation experience would suggest that Lutyens colleagues may have been more responsible for the successful completion than he himself. This included dismantling and transporting another house from Benenden to Northiam, where Great Dixter is situated, and bringing the two together.

As was so often the case with architects of this period, Lutyens went onto design the gardens of Great Dixter. Not surprisingly, Lutyens contribution was fairly formal.

Much of this structure still exists today, albeit this is augmented with Christopher Lloyd’s and his mother Daisy’s own influence, which marries the formality with informality.

Christopher Lloyd being particularly well known for his work with the creation of wild meadows.

One of the great characteristics of the gardens are that they surround the house, so as the visitor you get an excellent view of the house as you journey around each room in the garden….

From the Meadow Areas, to the Mixed Borders, to The Walled Garden with its pebble mosaic, The Sunken Garden, The Long Border, and finally The Exotic Garden, there is a huge wealth of colour and mixing of species that is very Christopher Lloyd and a real feast for the eyes!

Our visit was in April 2014 and we’ll be back.

A must see is the Nursery and Shop. The Nursery is one of the best of it’s type and is championed by a brilliant horticulturalist you will find in the Nursery Shop. We bought loads of plants, so leave some boot space for this! The Shop has all manner of interesting gifts, but the star items are the re-furbed garden tools. I bought a fabulous pair of topairy shears for just £25.

I also bought……

- An ornamental rhubarb – Rheum Palmatum Atrosanguineum.

- Camassia Leichtlinii Caerulea – for its lilac blue flowerheads

- Geranium Maderense – for it’s Spring flowering Magenta Pink Flowers

- Achillea Millefolium Red Velvet – you pop this in a full sun position in moist well drained soil

Great Dixter is based at Northiam, near Rye. So if you are staying at The Mermaid, it’s a must visit.

For further information see www.greatdixter.co.uk

Or call 01797 254044, or go to Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH

If you are visiting Chapel Down Vineyards, go to Great Dixter first, then call into Chapel Down and book a taxi home. On this occasion we ended up at The George in Robertsbridge.

This is a fine Coaching Inn, run by John and Jane Turner.  See more at www.thegeorgerobertsbridge.co.uk or call Jane at 01580 880315. The food is excellent, there is a very fine Argentinian Malbec on the wine list, and you have to leave room for the deserts as they are just brilliant!

For more information about Great Dixter call Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820.

A Japanese Oasis in Tunbridge Wells

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

About a year ago we were invited by a Tunbridge Wells resident to take a look at their garden. It had seen better times and the land was heavily terraced with a considerable rise in levels.

But it had real potential and at one time some thought had been given to the design and the terracing of the garden, albeit things were held together with loose rocks and old pathways and steps were crumbling.

There were a number of rather nice tree specimens including a couple of Acers and interesting Conifers. Elsewhere there were some overgrown Rhododendrons and a Camelia. An old bench sat on a grassy embankment at the top of the garden, commanding superb views of Tunbridge Wells.

The client filled us in on their brief for the garden which included a proper base for the seat at the top of the garden, revisiting the combination of steps, terraces and planting areas, a larger rear terrace outside the dining room, and another entertainment area mid garden. It would also be necessary to build in a watering system, and choose planting that was relatively low maintenance.

Armed with the brief earlier this year we set to designing and renovating the garden, from it’s old tired state to a vibrant new oasis.

Tim Sykes commented, “the combination of the terracing, rocks and the plants set the old creative juices flowing and inspired us to think of an oriental theme for the garden!”

Our vision for the garden was inspired by the Japanese, such as those at Chinzan-so, in Tokyo, and the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon.

“I adore the combination of colours and contrasting themes you find in Japanese gardens in particular the use of red (my favourite colour) to paint bridges and benches”, comments Sykes.

“To draw the eye and as a real feature we designed the new garden to incorporate a gloss red Lutyens bench set against a backdrop of a similarly crafted dense green hedge.”

The client loved our ideas and this summer commissioned Gardenproud to redesign and landscape the whole of the rear garden.

The design incorporated an upper sitting area and rockery, a series of lower pathways, steps and terraces, a large circular mid terrace, then further steps leading down to a lower patio area and the house. It included some perimeter lighting and a water irrigation system. Trellising helped to camouflage an otherwise unattractive shed and unify the design of the lower patio.

Many tons of new Sandstone Rocks have been brought in to create new rockery walls and new flights of steps. The use of Indian Sandstone pavers has been augmented with interesting stone patterns to create new features.

The use of rustic posts and handrails at key points in the garden, helps visitors climb the terraces, but just like the planting their juxtaposition deliberately takes the eye on a journey up the garden to that gorgeous red bench!

A planting plan was created that would help emphasise the Japanese theme and included Tree Ferns, Acers of contrasting colours, Camelias, Phormiums, Buxus Balls, Azaleas, Magnolias and Dwarf Conifers.

An ingenious water butt now makes best use of the rain water that runs off the shed roof.

Along the way a lot of other more mundane things had to be addressed! Including an enhanced drainage system, renewing boundary fences, new foundations for steps, a fair amount of earth moving (by hand), a lot of lifting ( so much lifting it’s unreal)! We painted the benches, then repainted the benches ( we can advise you which famous brands not use on outdoor benches)!

But the finished result looks reasonably faithful to the concept, and the client is delighted with his new oriental oasis.

Let’s hope we have a nicer Summer next year and our client and his friends can really enjoy this unique garden.

If you’d like to find out more about this garden or would welcome a fresh new theme for your garden in 2013 contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820.