Vintage ~ Handmade ~ Homes ~ Gardens

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Bury my heart at Great Dixter


Nestled in the gentle English countryside of East Sussex is the most wonderful gem of a garden and yesterday we chose a perfect sunny, warm day to visit.




There are some amazing gardens in England and I've visited many - but for me none can compare with the wonderful, 

         wonderful 

               Great Dixter!



Surrounded by wild flower meadows Dixter is not the classical English garden with sweeping manicured lawns. 


Great Dixter in high summer is all about 

dense planting and...

                   eye popping...

                              sock-it-to-me colour!








Great Dixter can be found in the pretty village of Northiam. The original house at Dixter, which dates from the mid 15th century, was acquired by a businessman named Nathaniel Lloyd in 1909. He had a 16th century house in a similar style moved from Kent and the two were combined with new work by the architect Edwin Lutyens to create a much larger house, which was rechristened Great Dixter.






Nathaniel Lloyd loved gardens, designed some of the garden himself, and imparted that love to his son Christopher who learned the skills required of a gardener from his mother Daisy, who did the actual gardening and who introduced him to Gertrude Jekyll. Christopher Lloyd, the writer and gardener, who died aged 84 in 2006, has been  described as the supreme master of his profession. In 1979 he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour, the highest horticultural accolade.

The gardens at Dixter 'break' a number of gardening rules - like planting tall plants at the front of the bed for example - and perhaps is best known for 'clashing' colours. At first glance the planting seems wild, unplanned, but as your eye tunes in to the dazzling colour a pattern begins to emerge. This is not an elegant garden for a gentle stroll - you gasp, wow, laugh, want to do a happy dance!

(Click on any photo for a larger version)













Let's leave the final for to Mr. Lloyd himself, written shortly before he died:
"Does a garden die with its owner? It's a question that is often asked. Don't worry, I'm not thinking of dying, and it's not necessarily a gloomy question at all.
A garden is bound to change when its creator is no longer there. If they are simply moving house, they may want to take plants with them, perhaps in the knowledge that their successor isn't in the least interested, anyway. Or maybe they want to make a new start.
I, of course, wonder what is likely to happen at Dixter. I want it to continue to be dynamic, and most certainly not to be set in aspic, as can all too easily happen. I want it to be, "That's the way he always liked to have it" - that sort of thing.
Fergus Garrett, my head gardener and closest friend, wants the same dynamism. All being well, he will remain here, and there will be no fossilisation with him around. He is a brilliant teacher, for one thing, and people long for the opportunity to learn from him. He knows how to get the best out of people, which is where I sometimes fail.
Between the two of us, we're a pretty dynamic couple. Gardening should be a partnership, and we are both interested in how to keep ours dynamic. Sometimes we like things to stay as they are, while at others change seems to beckon. I don't much care for the question, "What changes are you planning for this year?" because it pins me down, but changes there will be, you may be sure. Dynamism is in our bloodstream.
We want this spirit to carry on, and have set up a trust to work with our management team to run the place. The people who are involved are well aware of what Dixter represents and what its aims should be. The trust is appealing for financial help to secure its future. Its members understand what it's all about, so the future is bright - insofar as we can look into it at all. We have always been optimists."


Friday, 27 July 2012

Ready - steady - go!

It's hard not to catch the Olympic bug if you live or work in London. We've been planning for it since that magical day back in 2005 when the words "London" rang around Trafalgar Square. 


Even my son has got in on the Olympic action!




(Just needs a fourth for the relay)

So here's hoping for a display of some true British grit over the coming weeks and medals galore.







Wherever in the world you are watching the Olympics enjoy what is going to be a spectacular games London can be proud of.



ps I shall be going to the finals of the women's football at Wembley :-)



Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Parc de Bercy

I loved this delightful park in Bercy, Paris. An intriguing mix of contemporary and traditional planting. It was a beautiful place to rest on a hot Parisian day. 





J'aime Paris!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Vintage & Craft Fair

It didn't rain today. Hallelujah! This is big news here in the UK where it has been pouring it down for months. I had a stall at the Vintage & Craft Fair at Hertfordshire Craft Collective and the sun had it's hat on for most of the day at the lovely country location near Radlett.


Here's some of the lovely vintage and craft goodies that were for sale.


























Got my feet up now with a cup of tea and one of those yummy cup cakes!


How's your weekend been?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Once in a lifetime

I had a major dilemma yesterday. Two once in a lifetime events were happening on the same afternoon. Murray in the finals of Wimbledon and the Olympic Torch relay in Hertfordshire - at the same time. So there was I that morning deliberating tennis or torch? How to choose? Just to make the choice even more difficult I had a performance to give with Rock Choir at Wheathampstead Village Fete too! 


So here's how I managed it. First to Wheathampstead, north of St Albans, to sing with black clouds looming overhead. Fortunately the rain held off and we got through our set with a lovely appreciative crowd. 


(Here we are lining up ready to perform)



Next a quick check on the score at Wimbledon - one set all. Drove the 5 miles to St Albans and found somewhere to park near the long road where the torch relay would pass. Where to stand for a good view. The torch was due in an hour and the crowds were starting to gather. A lovely steward said that that spot right there would be a really good place to stand - note the emphasis on really ;-)





There was a wonderful atmosphere in that jolly British Jubilee sort of way. Union jacks galore, children with painted faces and lots of anticipation. Everyone was getting very excited!






On the opposite side of the road to me were the ladies above who were there to support Glynn Carter who was going to carry the torch. Not long before the torch arrived Glynn appeared in his white tracksuit. Here he is...he was just bursting with pride and happiness! 


The excitement in the crowd by now was jubilant and all eyes were expectant on the road. It was coming!

The police motorcyclists where sounding their sirens and waving to the crowd, everyone was cheering!







And here's the moment when they lit the torch - this was a really good place to stand!

video


Off he goes into towards the centre of St Albans. (Love the old lady waving the flag in the middle of the road!)






A once in a lifetime experience - I was thrilled! 

(I even got back to watch the end of the tennis - ah well!)


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