Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dixter Diary - Day 24

It's been a true honor to be able to learn at Great Dixter over the past 24 days.  Thanks again to Fergus for allowing me to participate and to Chanticleer (and Bill Thomas) for funding this experience as part of a scholarship.  The time has gone quickly and I certainly find myself attached to all of the special people at this excellent garden that continues to honor the legacy of Christopher Lloyd.  This will be my last posting from Great Dixter but I'll have three posts from London over the weekend to share the gardens that I see there!  I've already taken 4,475 photos on this trip!  Tomorrow I hop on a train to London and ultimately fly home to my much missed family and another garden very special to me; Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin, USA.

The day started with my morning tour and photos and then Fergus drove Thies, Susan, Maria and I to the RHS Garden at Wisley which is the garden I visited on my first day at Great Dixter as well!  The weather was excellent and we had many hours to enjoy this garden while Fergus had a meeting.  Rachel, Michael, Motoko and Jana all came to the gardens later via another vehicle.  Some of those highlights are included below.  The day ended with some work on sorting seeds for the meadows and I'll leave that in other capable hands.  Thanks to Fergus, Perry, Jude, Linda, Catherine, Victoria, Maria, Rachel, Lewis, Hayden, Graham, Simon, Michelle, Frank, Sam the Carpenter, Mike, Michael, Siew Lee, Nicki, Katherine, Kate, Imigen, Jean-Michele, Joe, Alice, Holly, Rich, Sam the Gardener, Ben, Hayden, Michael, Jonny, Motoko, Yuko, Susan, Thies, Aaron, Thomas, Cornelia, Jana and everyone else that I've forgotten to mention.  What a great group of people.

 the Sunk Garden was my favorite! (seen above)

RHS Garden - Wisley was looking excellent today

 Fergus walked by us out in the gardens during his meeting.  The fact that his meeting was extended allowed us more time in the garden too!
Above left are Motoko and Michael talking to Wisley staff about soils
 Thies next to Gunnera - Thies has been a great companion and has a bright future in horticulture
 more shots of Wisley today (very busy!)

 We were right out of the car upon our return and Fergus maximizes every minute and started sorting seeds and planning for sowing as soon as tomorrow

The sign above in the nursery has two meanings for me....I DID manage to hit my head over 10 times on various low beams (the first time was definitely a concussion)....but also Great Dixter certainly does become part of you and "gets in your head" whether as a visitor, volunteer, staff member or even a student for 24 days...I'm sure I'll be back some day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dixter Diary - Day 23

I gambled and didn't put on my rain suit today and we only had the lightest of drizzle on occasion.  My rain suit has not held up well for various reasons but the day ended up being very enjoyable with my morning and evening walks through the gardens "sandwiching" a whole lot of work too!  I love this image above as the grasses really are contributing strongly in early October here!  I continue to capture so many neat things here at Great Dixter and have been glad to have my little camera with me the entire time.

Colchicum groupings in the front lawn
the Sunk Garden above
the colorful seeds of a Paris sp. caught my eye today and Rachel later collected these
beets (Beta vulgaris) - a true "ornamental edible"!
the fall coloration on this oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) has intensified over the last couple of weeks...
love all the compositions here and will be seeking out these red marigolds (Tagetes sp.) seen below for next year!

there are so many neat transitions between gardens - who wouldn't want to walk through there!?
ran in to this salamander (above) and toad (below) today

morning tidying is now including more leaf collecting!

As we (Lewis, Hayden, Mike, Sam and I) were stacking hay on to this huge pile (seen above), Sam slipped down off the pile and became wedged behind the tractor and buried with hay.  Before giving a serious effort in helping extricate him, I had to snap this photo below!  He's a good sport and has returned to Great Dixter as a student for a year.

we continue to collect meadow cuttings (from Rich and Graham) as seen above
Matoko (Japan) is another student (seen above) and below it looks like she's leading the sheep!

Thies has been a hard worker (despite sitting down here and watching us work..) and will be here another month or so
my afternoon photography continues to focus on the Kniphofia sp. above and the Sunk Garden below (seen through the Barn Garden)!

I believe these are 'Chippendale' zinnias (Zinnia haageana) above
I've watched this Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' get even more intense fall color daily!
the dahlia bouquet above was given to me by Siew Lee as a nice "goodbye arrangement"!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dixter Diary - Day 22

Today was another overcast day with drizzle and rain.  Above is a Euphorbia leaf with morning rain beading up.  Beautiful! The sun did appear briefly but regardless, lots of work was accomplished throughout the garden.  After morning tidying, I worked on processing some dahlias for winter storage, weeded down at the farm and spent quite a bit of time with work out in the meadows.  When the meadows are cut, the cuttings are raked, collected and composted or re-distributed to other areas to improve the species variability and in essence, to improve the younger meadows...  

Hard to believe my time is almost done here.  I'll finish this Thursday at Great Dixter then on to London for three days of gardens before a return home early next week.  I sure miss the wife, two daughters and all our animals at home but this experience continues to be educational and inspiring!

nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.) continuing to climb this spirea
despite the weed-like status teasel gets in many portions of the U.S., the architecture is amazing (above and below) - note the dried leaves are absent and picked off...

cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) still going strong (above) and grape (Vitis sp.) leaves are starting to get tinged with fall color (below)

Graham (above) was doing "donuts" on this newer meadow (cut and cleared yesterday) to get it ready for the "strewings" from one of the prime meadows (see further below)
Above and below are Rich cutting down one of the meadows today.  For Americans, if you know Willie MacDougal (the groundskeeper on the Simpsons), Rich's Scottish accent is just as strong.  He's a neat guy with a great sense of humor and will wear shorts and a t-shirt as long as it's over 50 degrees F...

Above and below are the "strewing crew" of (left to right) Graham, Yuko, Makoto, Jana and Sam

Thies (above) followed Rich along and combed the cuttings in to rows for loading
the gardens are just as beautiful on a rainy day!

We later had a treat and visited the garden of Great Dixter Trustee Kemal Mehdi who lived just down the road.  Above is Mr. Mehdi who gave us a brief tour before it poured this afternoon.  He had wonderful borders and a neat house with a very ornate thatch roof (wish I had photographed it!). These photographs are used with his permission.  Beautiful little field trip for sure!