Posts Tagged ‘Great Dixter’

Lunaria 'Corfu Blue'I bought little seedlings of this lovely perennial Honesty (originating from several Greek islands) around Easter last year from Special Plants in Bath and this spring they have started flowering. I had to move the plants last autumn to make way for my new greenhouse and was surprised to see that their roots were akin to Dahlia tubers, big and chunky, storing up plenty of energy for gorgeous blooms this year. This variety will grow in sun or light shade, with rich purplish seed pods, and if you sow seeds in late spring this year, they should flower next year. I’m hoping they’ll start to self-seed in my garden for the years ahead as it’s only a short-lived perennial.

Green leaved and Variegated Honesty in a crack

I spent a few inspirational days volunteering at Great Dixter last week, where self-seeding is always encouraged to keep planting dynamic throughout the garden.  Both green-leaved and variegated biennial Honesty (Lunaria annua) self-seeds freely in their borders (and in cracks in-between paving and buildings) allowing for some serendipitous planting combinations and I hope to get back to see some of these over the next few months. Special plants offer seeds for both biennial and perennial Honesties, including Lunaria rediviva, another perennial with lavender flowers and elliptical, more pointy seed pods.

These seed pods are a great childhood memory, sliding off the outer coats carefully, to reveal that delicate pale papery translucent film underneath.  It’s only now that I’m realising what useful spring colour they can add to a garden.

Leucojum and lunaria

At the moment ‘Corfu Blue’ is looking great alongside some nodding Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake).

20th April Postscript

Lunaria annuaHere’s Lunaria annua (confusingly a biennial) on a very sunny day at Great Dixter, contrasting brilliantly with some rich yellow tulips.

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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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Following on from last week’s Great Dixter blog, here’s a few more irresistible plant combinations and inspirational ideas from the gardens at this time of year. Grown as part of the Great Dixter pot displays, Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ is a joyous sight next to Rudbeckia ‘Kelvedon Star’. ‘Kelvedon Star’ is an annual Rudbeckia-seeds available from Thompson and Morgan. Great Dixter buy their bulbs from Peter Nyssen, who are hoping to stock this Eucomis next year, and Eucomis ‘Sparking Burgundy’ is also available from Avon Bulbs with 9 other Eucomis cultivars too.

The simple yet stunning combination of Amni visnaga (left) and Verbena bonariensis has inspired me to order seeds now in order to plant up a forgotten corner in our local area. Amni visnaga is a hardy annual and seeds planted now will have established themselves well enough to survive the winter and get a head start on Spring sowings. Verbena bonariensis is a somewhat less hardy short-lived perennial, but makes up for this by being a prodigious self-seeder. Seeds should be planted inside a greenhouse or indoors in spring and planted out in May/June to create a gorgeous late summer purple haze. Seeds for Amni visnaga from Sarah Raven, Verbena seeds available from the fabulous Chiltern’s Seeds catalogue.

Through the floating purple heads of Verbena bonariensis, a Schefflera, possibly Schefflera Hoi?-available from Crug Farm plants, is visible in the Exotic garden.

Creamy, or should that be dreamy Artemesia lactiflora (available from Great Dixter Nursery) sits wonderfully in a border surrounded by the scrunchy flower heads of the purple leafed Atriplex hortensis (Chiltern’s Seeds), the pink nodding heads of Persicaria orientalis and the deeper pink heads of Eupatorium Riesenschirm (Great Dixter Nursery).

And around the corner the same Eupatorium Riesenschirm provides a wonderfully contrasting background for Helianthus ‘Capenoch Star’ (Great Dixter Nursey).

Trial beds and compost heaps planted with gourds and Nasturtium add to the bucolic bliss at Great Dixter. I love these none-too-manicured corners of the garden,

where outer areas merge into the surrounding countryside.

In the trial beds, Hollyhocks are being put through their paces for possible use in one of the beds next year,

and Rosa setipoda continues to provide interest with its beautifully elongated red hips in the long border.

Adjacent to the house, plump red round hips of Rosa rugosa are gorgeously decorative too.

In the long border, the glowing red (and feathery leaves) of the annual Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’ creates an arresting combination alongside a shocking pink Petunia and the faded yellow miniature pompoms of Santolina pinnata subsp. neapolitana (available from the Great Dixter Nursery).

There’s so much more to see at Great Dixter, where textures and colours seem to effortlessly knit together, forming rewarding layers of planting at every glance. I love going back at different times of the year to see how different areas have developed and changed throughout the seasons. The more I visit, the more I appreciate the depth and richness of the planting that makes Great Dixter such a wonderful garden to visit, and one that you want to return to again and again.

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