Posts Tagged ‘Great Dixter courses’

Thinking ahead for next year, it’s great to see what courses are out there that can add to your gardening knowledge. I’ve been intrigued for a while now about the ‘No dig’ system of gardening, where soil is improved by adding compost every year to beds but without digging it in. My back supports this idea very much as all the hard work is done by worms gradually working the compost into the soil. No digging also retains the structure of the soil and if you can add a couple of inches of compost each year, will help to reduce weeds too. Charles Dowding (above) is a great advocate of ‘No dig’ gardening and has been operating a successful veg growing business for twenty-nine years using this system. I’m hoping to attend one of his courses running at Great Dixter in February next year. As well as books about ‘No dig’ gardening, he’s also written about salad leaves for all seasons, and so ‘participants will also learn about the importance of sowing at the best time of year for each vegetable crop, to help minimise pests and maximise yield, and there’ ll also be the opportunity for discussion about planting by the moon and biodynamics’. Planting by the moon -another topic that I’ve always meant to investigate (but often wondered if planting by the moon would be possible with my sometimes rigid gardening schedule), so I’m really looking forward to attending the course and learning from an expert in his field.

If you can’t make the course in February, there are many courses at Great Dixter (above) throughout the year that will tempt you and Charles Dowding also runs courses from his farm in Somerset which are booking now for spring next year.

West Dean Gardens, nr Chichester in W.Sussex are offering some really interesting gardening courses for next year including ‘Training trees and shrubs’, ‘Designing your own garden’ and ‘The organic kitchen garden’ (and lots more), and it’s worth keeping an eye on The Garden Museum in London too as they’ll be introducing more talks and events for 2012 soon.

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I’ve just spent this weekend soaking up the last of the summer’s rays down on the East Sussex coast. And what better way to finish off a glorious weekend, than a plant fair at Great Dixter. As I entered into the welcoming field of stalls, plants on the Hart Canna stand were looking so fresh and inviting that you could almost convince yourself that summer is going to go on forever. I knew this was going to be a truly enjoyable event!

Twenty five specialist nurseries from all over Europe were offering a mouth-watering selection of plants,

and enthusiastic talks were given by the nursery owners every half an hour. Ylva Blid-Mackenzie (above) from Madrona Nursery talked about planning for autumn colour in the garden with some choice plants from her nursery near Ashford in Kent. I thought it was amazing that you could pick up such expert knowledge over the weekend from what was a wide range of growers, and then buy the plants, all in the relaxed and idyllic setting of Great Dixter.

There were food stalls and cake provided by the Women’s Institute and much entertainment was provided by numerous events at the very popular Dachshund dog show.

And having spent a few quid on some quality plants, I popped round the corner to see how the late summer bed planted up 6 weeks ago was progressing. This is Siew Lee (above) watering in plants that were planted out in mid August,

and here’s the same bed looking vibrant and lush in October!

There’s still loads to inspire in the garden, which remains open until the end of October, and talks, workshops and study days are running right up until Christmas (and now booking into 2012). I know I’ll try to visit again before the year is up.


If you want to read more blogs about Great Dixter this year, click here for my August visit and here for my week Voluteering in February.  If you’d like to read about a great study day I went in at Great Dixter click here.

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Brunnera Jack Frost & Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign'

Really trying to get to grips with the shadier areas in my garden at the moment. I love the way that the blue flowers of the Pumonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ pick up on blue of the forget-me-not-like flowers of these Brunnera. The highly, almost white, variegated leaves of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ seem to glow in a dark spot and contrast wonderfully with the surrounding green foliage.

Pulmonaria 'Sissinghurst white' with Pachyphragma macrophyllum

I can’t get enough of Pulmonarias and bought some ‘Sissinghurst whites’ to plant by my Pachyphragma macrophyllum on the right of the photo (big name for such a smallish plant, I know!). Looks like lots of bare earth, but the plants will hopefully spread to form a luxuriant green and white carpet of loveliness in this area soonish.

Euphorbia robbiae with Hyancinth 'Blue Jacket'

This is from a client’s garden at the edge of a small woodland area. Both plants have such vibrantly coloured flowers that they really dazzle when planted next to each other. Might even try planting more Hyacinths within the Euphorbia next time round.

Leucojum aestivum or Summer Snowflake

Despite its name, Leucojum aestivum usually flowers in April or May. It’s like a giant snowdrop, about 18 inches to 2 ft tall and does well in semi-shady parts of my garden. My parents always had these in their garden and these are some of the first plants I planted when we moved to our house about 10 years ago as they really remind me of my childhood and gardening with my parents.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

These teeny-weeny flowers look so insignificant, but have the sweetest scent in a semi-shaded area of my garden. My Pittosporum is a large shrub, but will become a small tree if I don’t do something about it pronto. As soon as the flowers have finished, will get my secateurs out!

Spirea with Tulipa Ballade

Onto sunnier areas in the garden. This Spirea looked pretty naked last spring, flowering in what seemed like its own vacuum, so in autumn I planted these Tulips to enliven the area. Still not sure if I want to keep the Spirea (which came with the house), but the Tulips do improve the spot.

Tulipa Ballade with Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fens Ruby'

However, I planted a few of the Tulips next to this lovely Euphorbia ‘Fens Ruby’ which I do think works. I’ve put a note in my diary for September to order loads more pink tulips (but not Ballade as I want pure pink without the white) for this bed come autumn.

Bare patch in border

And finally, the problem spot! Read a great blog today from Helen at The Patient Gardener. She’d been to hear Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter talk about successional planting and one of the most important lessons she learnt was to always take notes in your own garden! I know I have Crocosmia and some Echinacea coming up in this area later on in the year, but what should I plant here now? (Any ideas gratefully received). Glad I’ve finally taken a pic of this bed in April as I think I may want to plant some more Tulips here and it will be good to know exactly where to place them later in the year. Another note in my diary to buy Tulips for this bed too.

Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter

Helen also mentioned how inspiring she found the talk by Fergus Garrett and I felt the same when I went on a Successional planting day last January.  Great Dixter holds study days throughout the year in East Sussex with Fergus Garrett leading many of the courses. Have a look at my blog about the Successional planting day. I hugely recommend going on a course. You’ll come away having had a very enjoyable day and your head will be full of great new planting ideas.Book now!!

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