Tuesday 2 April 2013

Frank's place

22nd Fri Mar
Weather: We were at Seaford, it started at 2-3°C going up to 7°C. It was windy and quite heavy rain in between.

We have a volunteer called Frank who comes to Dixter most Thursdays, who almost always brings us treats and often help make our mess room a much nicer place. He lives in Seaford and has a garden on chalk. As the soil at Dixter is clay, Fergus thought it might be a good idea that we gardened on something different. So a team of us went there and it was like Ground Force - the garden makeover show. The interesting additional challenges were that it is also near the sea, quite exposed and on a slope. Frank generously let us upheave his garden, rearrange it and make new plantings.

One of my favourite bed composition at Franks was one at the right of this statue that had a Wollemia nobilis - one of the oldest known tree species in the world that looks wonderfully prehistoric, with wallflowers underneath and some hot pink anemones. 

Yannick and James set about working on Frank's front garden, expanding an existent bed and adding more plants to it. Lewis set about making a structure out of bamboo cane for Frank's broad beans. There was a bed with a Eucalpytus tree that was not doing too well, so we removed this and replaced it with a Malus hupehensis.

Me and Rachael decided to work on the bed in front of his summer house. As we were weeding it out, we noticed that a few of the shrubs were not doing too well - an Escallonia, Cistus and a rosemary. Frank was quite happy for us to take them out, and this helped open out the view from the summer house more. We re-positioned plants and pruned the Aucuba japonica at the back which was following a good shape but needed a little trim. There are already plants like Helianthus and Hemerocallis - a warm yellowy orange theme going on there. We decided to enhance this by planting in some heleniums, and have asked Frank to scatter Calendula 'Indian Prince' and Eschscholzia californica seeds amongst the perennials. There was also a deep dark purple Centaurea, and some giant poppies and roses in the bed. We also convinced him to keep his Vinca in there for now so that their blue flowers would hopefully punctuate the sea of orangey yellows. We also replanted some self-sown parsley and some Dianthus alongside the steps. Can't wait to see the outcome of it later on this year.


  1. Hi - I visited Great Dixter last Wednesday and whilst there heard about the Christopher Lloyd scholarship and your blog.

    I plan to return to Great Dixter soon, but live over 150 miles away, which is a bit far. It's great to know I can 'visit' more often via your blog :)

  2. I follow in VP's footsteps. Kind of fun, to tear a garden apart - then watch it rebuilt, only better.

  3. Thanks for your comments - I'm afraid I'm still very slow at replying to these. Great to see your blogs too, it's been really interesting being introduced to different people's blogs and how they approach theirs. Mine spurned out of just needing to do a technical diary as part of my scholarship, but they can be founts of interesting/ useful thoughts, expression & information. I'm hoping that this particular one will be a useful document/ reference to look back upon when I have finished my scholarship here. Also a conservation of good memories!


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