TWO YEARS AGO, in early April, I had the pleasure of visiting Great Dixter in East Sussex, England, the estate of Christopher Lloyd, who spent his life tending gardens and gigantic, whimsical topiaries begun by his own father and Edwin Lutyens, the well-known Arts and Crafts architect, around 1912.
The 57 acre property includes a long border, orchard, and wildflower meadow surrounding a medieval manor house, parts of which date to the 15th century (and the rest from the 16th) – imagine!
Lloyd, considered one of the great gardeners of the 20th century, was also a wonderful garden writer (his book, The Cottage Garden, is filled with pictures of Great Dixter) and a popular British TV personality.
He died in 2006, a few months before my visit, and the place seemed worrisomely deserted and sad and raggedy around the edges.
So I was glad to see in an article recently that Great Dixter, which unlike many of England’s great gardens is NOT a National Trust property, has just received a grant of several million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its restoration and upkeep.
Much of the money will go toward building work and a curatorial project, cataloguing and preserving the estate’s collection of 17th and 18th century furniture, textiles and ceramics, as well as Lloyd’s collection of contemporary furniture by Rupert Williamson and ceramics by Alan Caiger Smith [note to self: investigate those unfamiliar names!]