To Great Dixter, the garden designed by Lutyens, revolutionised by the late, great writer and horticulturalist, Christopher Lloyd, and which is forging into the future under its present custodian and Lloyd disciple, Fergus Garrett.
Four years ago, Garrett decided to hold a plant fair, inviting hand-picked nursery folk from all over Europe to come and sell the plants they raise as quietly and painstakingly as children. Since then it’s become an annual event.
I love few things more than pottering around a specialist nursery. Not a garden centre mind, a nursery, where staff know how to grow their stuff and can identify those oddball cultivars. So this, my first visit to Dixter’s fair, was heaven. Here were some of the champions of the horticultural world; those men and women who patiently propagate their own plants, develop new cultivars and talk about them with passion and knowledge. They came from France, Holland and Germany, Sussex and Kent, Essex and Wiltshire, selling (and selling out) of asters and salvias, grasses, hydrangeas and proteas from South Africa.
Of course you get to wander round Dixter’s gardens too, which always make me smile. This autumn, Garrett has replanted Lutyens’ famous circular stone steps with exotic aeoliums and succulents, and just as audaciously, flanked an old brick barn with bold rows of saucer-sized, flouncy pink dahlias two metres high.
It’s already in next year’s diary.