28 Mar 2013

Great Dixter: It was Just A Perfect Day

Dixter porch

It doesn't happen often but, once in a while, the Perfect Day comes along and leaves a lingering residue of contentment, inspiration, satisfaction, warmth.  Yesterday was such a day.  Thanks to the kindness and organisation of Naomi at Outofmyshed and Catherine at Great Dixter, I joined a small group of garden bloggers at this very special house and garden in East Sussex.

Closed ...

The gardens were not yet open to the public (opening tomorrow, Friday 29th March) so, apart from staff and busy gardeners, we had the place to ourselves. As guests, we were welcomed with coffee and cake and a busy day had been planned for us, starting with an eagerly awaited talk from Fergus Garrett about the work that they do at Dixter.  He's deeply passionate about all he and his team do so, despite his protestations of going on too long, we were charmed, amused, inspired and informed.  An excellent talk by any standards and, for me, the highlight.

The rest of the day disappeared far too quickly with a tour of the nursery, the house, the restored medieval Great Barn and a 'behind the scenes' tour of the garden with assistant Head Gardener Siew Lee.  Every person we met spoke generously and knowledgeably about their work; as a result, I've come home with a notebook (and mind) filled with advice, recommendations, subjects to research and ideas which will be written about in future posts.

But, for now, it's a dry, bright - if chilly - day in North London and I feel so uplifted and inspired by the people that I met yesterday that I can't wait to get back to work in the gardens here.

That's the power of a good garden visit and the joy of meeting with like-minded blogging and gardening souls.

Smile ...
Even the logs are happy at Great Dixter!
And a fuller post can wait for another day.

29 comments:

  1. So glad you had a great day. Places like that are truly inspiring. I have been looking forward to doing a fair bit of gardening over Easter since we have a decent-length holiday, but I think the weather is going to stop me. It's just too cold to sow and plant still. Even under cloches nothing is moving.

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    1. Yes, they are, Mark! Definitely too cold for growing; my spuds are chitting nicely, as soon as the weather warms up, I'll be planting those out. I'm making the most of the time to prepare things and tidy up. Always something to be done!!

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  2. you lucky thing, must have been wonderful, I was inspired by Sissinghurst when we first went there, I imagine Dixter will be the same

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    1. Oh it was a most wonderful day, David! I think there will always be something to inspire at Dixter, regardless of the weather or seasons. It will be a visit for you to look forward to!

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  3. It was a really enjoyable day, and great to meet so many other keen bloggers too. I could have kept listened to Fergus for ages!

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    1. Ooh yes - me too! What a wonderful speaker, so passionate about the gardens, the meadows, the apprenticeships ... now there's a man who loves his work! Would definitely make a point of going to another of his lectures!

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    2. PS - It was lovely to meet you and Mark; I enjoyed our chats throughout the day and lingering for a last chat at the end. Definitely one of those days that you don't want to end!

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  4. What a great day you had by the sound of it. Meeting other garden bloggers and being shown round a wonderful place like that before it opens is a real privilege so I'm not surprised that is was a perfect day for you. Flighty xx

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    1. We did, Flighty, we did! The day was made so special, not only by being in good company of fellow enthusiasts but also for the very real awareness of what a privilege we were afforded by being there as the guests of Great Dixter. A once in a lifetime memory. C xx

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  5. Wonderful that you came home so inspired. It is a long time since I went to Gt. Dixter, I'm sure there must have been lots of changes in the meantime. Fergus Garrett is a wonderful speaker, he came down here a few years ago to talk to a gardening group and had us all spell bound. Lucky you to go behind the scenes and have a tour of the garden just to yourselves!
    I have lots of seedlings in the greenhouse getting bigger and bigger but daren't put them out with the freezing wind that we have, the garden just doesn't look happy, everything started shooting up, but now its regretting it!

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    1. Pauline, the highlight for me was hearing Fergus speaking about the gardens - how wonderful that you were able to hear him at a local event - he really is very passionate about his craft! Spell bound is exactly the right word to describe how we were in his presence, enthralled and inspired!
      It's slightly warmer here today but still very windy - Like you, I'm wary of planting out too much as the wind is so damaging so my balcony is looking very crowded at the moment!

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    1. Very much so, Lucy - and well worth the dawn drive to get there. Something I hope to repeat soon!

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  7. It was lovely to meet you and you're right - it was such a Perfect Day :)

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    1. Yes, finally we met! I so enjoyed chatting with you and hope that our paths will cross again in the future. Super to meet up with familiar 'voices' and put faces to them - and to meet fresh blogging faces! I've also really enjoyed reading the follow up posts from new 'friends'. I do hope this becomes an annual event!

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  8. Hey Caro! It was awesome meeting you and I was soooo enthused by it all too! I'm back home after our little holiday down south and got my hands stuck in the soil today (it was freezing), can't wait for it to warm up out there! Just going through all my photos now and catching up on things. Have fun!

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    1. Hey Anna - kindred spirit!! I was the same when I got back - into the garden to see what could be done. Fresh eyes on everything! I'm now looking at the events list for GD - sorely tempted to attend their propagation day with Michael, I'm sure all that knowledge would be worth every penny spent. Loved your detailed post on the day - you have a very good eye for photographs! Hope this isn't the last time we meet. C xx

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  9. How wonderful to be behind the scenes and to be at Dixter at such a promising time of year. An added plus to meet other bloggers! What a special opportunity. How I loved visiting many years ago when the late and great was alive. Many fond memories reading your post today. Thank you.

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    1. Wow, I'm very envious that you went to the garden when Christo Lloyd was still there - it must be a very special memory for you. I agree that spring is a good time to see a garden - I love to see the structure of a garden and, at Dixter, the clipped yews really stand out when they don't have to compete with the colourful summer borders! Lovely to have revived fond memories for you - I hope you've checked out my fellow bloggers, listed on Naomi's blog, Outofmyshed. Thanks for your lovely comment. C x

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  10. GD is somewhere I would really like to visit one day - I am not surprised you enjoyed your day it sounds like a really special treat to meet other bloggers too - gardeners are definitely a special breed of people.

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    1. I have several gardens on my 'Bucket List' - some round your way in Yorkshire! Obviously, the only thing to do is to buy a Volkswagen Campervan for my retirement and become a garden traveller!! It was rather exciting to meet up with other garden bloggers - they weren't all as they appear 'on paper', in fact it was rather a fun bunch of people in attendance! We ARE a special breed!

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  11. Hi Caro, I'm so jealous. Naomi invited me along but I couldn't make it. I'm just so busy with work at the moment and it's quite a distance for me to travel for a day. I love living where we do but it does feel like I live in the sticks, miles from the gardening hub. How amazing to have spent the day with Fergus Garrett and the team. I can understand why you're buzzing. I look forward to hearing more about your ideas and inspiration from the day. :)

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    1. Hi Welly, I did wonder if you would be there and quite looked forward to the possibility of meeting you after all our exchanged comments! We all came away so exhilarated by the day that several people have mentioned the hope that we can meet up again so, perhaps, next year you might join us? Although a long way to travel, Anna and Adam combined the day with a short holiday in the south so they were able to visit other gardens as well. Great idea! I'm sure the inspiration will continue to seep into my posts and gardening for a long time. :) C xx

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  12. We all need that inspiration sometimes. The cold winter must be getting you down. But keep smiling like the logs!

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    1. No, the cold weather isn't getting me down at all - smiling throughout in fact! I don't mind gardening in the cold as long as I'm wrapped up warmly - there's always something to keep me busy! I prefer to have all the cold weather at once rather than having the ups and downs of temperature that encourage pests and diseases and also leave us at a loss as to when to start sowing!! Must be lovely and warm where you are - you might even be envious of our variable weather!

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  13. Hi Caro, It was such a lovely day wasn't it! Hopefully we'll all get back to Great Dixter again soon and it would be great to arrange another bloggers meet later on in the year too. Must say that I'm finding this relentless winter a tad disheartening, but hugely looking forward to warmer days ahead. Fingers crossed...... x

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    1. Naomi, everyone is talking about what a wonderful time we all had, the value of the day is immense in terms of what we learned, about Dixter, gardening and each other! So great to meet up with other bloggers - and wonderful to see you and Alex again! I would fully support another meet up later in the year and would be happy to help you organise it, if you wish. This was my first visit to Dixter and I can see that it definitely won't be my last, in fact I fully intend to become a Friend of Dixter! Thank you so much, once again, for putting this fabulous day together ... xx

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  14. I am shades of green, I've heard so much about how inspiring Fergus is as a speaker. Am looking forward to reading more about what you learned.

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    1. You're not immune at suffering from garden envy Janet - although lucky this time around, I missed Joy Larkcom's talk at the Garden Museum last year and also wish I lived near enough to Malvern to join in the annual Malvern Meet! It was such a privilege to hear Fergus speak; he's extremely knowledgeable and friendly and we all said afterwards we could have sat and listened all day!

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Caro x

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