On the doorstep of Great Dixter
I’ve come away for a few days holiday, taking a tiny cottage in Northiam, East Sussex, right at the top of the drive that leads to Great Dixter. It’s been beyond wonderful to be able to toddle off down the road, flash my Friends of the Great Dixter Trust pass at the friendly folk in the ticket box (who, it turns out, live in the cottage next door to where I’m staying) and wander into the gardens. Three times I’ve been in the last four days (it’s closed on Mondays), liberated from the pressure of feeling I need to see everything in one go, and inevitably failing.
At the weekend, the front meadow was at the peak of its high summer glory, long grass and wildflowers almost knee high, lolling over the path attractively and no doubt seeding about all over the shop (everything’s a little early this summer). In fact, the first meadow cut, which this is, is timed to allow the seed to ripen and fall to the ground. I walked past with Bill yesterday when the garden was closed to the public, and could see the grass being cut around the outside of the main property, but wasn’t quite prepared for the transformation that met me when I walked through the front gate this morning.
There will be another cut made towards the end of Autumn, then this area will be left to its own devices, orchids, camassias and fritillaries all gathering strength for their appearance next year. Two cuts a year – it sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Anyone who’s tried to establish a wildflower meadow on anything other than totally knackered soil will know otherwise.
Have you attempted to sow a wildflower meadow in an area of your own garden, or elsewhere? I'd love to know how you've got on. Let me know on twitter or in the comments below.
*It also transpires that the cottage itself is owned by Chris O’Donoghue, himself a Chelsea Flower Show Gold winning garden designer. Which might account for the general loveliness off the front garden, with tall helianthus and Japanese anemones, hydrangeas and crocosmia – and the splendid shingle tiny back yard which is like a tiny Dungeness