People : Christopher Lloyd, Great Dixter’s Founder and Gardening Impressario……


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Christopher Hamilton Lloyd, OBE (2 March 1921 – 27 January 2006) was a British gardener and author. He was the 20th Century chronicler for the heavily planted, labour-intensive, country garden.

Life

Lloyd was born in Great Dixter, into an upper-middle-class family, the youngest of six children. In 1910, his father, Nathaniel Lloyd (an Arts and Crafts designer of posters and other images for confectionery companies), purchased Great Dixter, a manor house in Northiam, East Sussex near the south coast of England. Edwin Lutyens was hired to renovate and extend the gardens attached to the house. Nathaniel Lloyd loved gardens, designed some of the garden himself, and imparted that love to his son. Lloyd learned the skills required of a gardener from his mother Daisy, who did the actual gardening and who introduced him to Gertrude Jekyll.

After Rugby School, he attended King’s College, Cambridge, where he read modern languages before entering the Army during World War II. After the war he received his bachelors in Decorative Horticulture (Designing and Planning) from Wye College, University of London, in 1949. He stayed on there as an assistant lecturer in Horticulture until 1954.

In 1954, Lloyd moved home to Great Dixter and set up a nursery, specialising in unusual plants. He regularly opened the house and gardens to the public.

In 1979 Lloyd received the Victoria Medal of Honour, the highest award of the Royal Horticultural Society, for his promotion of gardening and his extensive work on their Floral Committee. Lloyd was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Open University in 1996 and was appointed as an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

Philosophy

Lloyd was firmly rooted in the Arts and Crafts style of garden. In most ways he was, like his mother and Gertrude Jekyll, a practical gardener. He said “I couldn’t design a garden. I just go along and carp.” Despite his extensive work with flowers, he had an appreciation for the garden as a whole. He also understood human nature. One professional gardener likes to quote Lloyd from his book Foliage Plants where he says: “For it is an indisputable fact that appreciation of foliage comes at a later stage in our education, if it comes at all”.

Oeuvre

Lloyd rapidly felt the need to share his gardening discoveries and published The Mixed Border in 1957, which was followed by Clematis in 1965 and The Well-Tempered Garden in 1970. Lloyd had begun a book on the use of exotic plants in British gardens when he died, his gardening friends and colleagues completed the book, Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners, in 2007.

Great Dixter his house in Northiam, East Sussex, England. Was built in 1910–12 by architect Edwin Lutyens, who combined an existing mid-15th century house on the site with a similar structure brought from Benenden, Kent, together with his own additions. It is a Grade I listed building. The garden, widely known for its continuous tradition of sophisticated plantsmanship, is Grade I listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

House

The original Northiam house, known as Dixter, dating from the mid-15th century, was acquired by a businessman named Nathaniel Lloyd in 1909. He had a 16th-century house in a similar style moved from Kent and the two were combined with new work by Lutyens to create a much larger house, which was rechristened Great Dixter. It is a romantic recreation of a medieval manor house, complete with great hall, parlour, solar and yeoman’s hall.

Garden

Lloyd and Lutyens began the garden at Great Dixter, but it was Lloyd’s son Christopher Lloyd, a well known garden writer and television personality, who made it famous. The garden is in the arts and crafts style, and features topiary, a long border, an orchard and a wild flower meadow. The planting is profuse, yet structured, and has featured many bold experiments of form, colour and combination. The garden is currently managed by Fergus Garrett, who worked closely with Lloyd up until his death in 2006 as Head Gardener and introduced a number of innovations into the planting scheme.

In the grounds of Great Dixter are three 18th-century oast houses, under a common roof, and a 15th-century barn. These are Grade II* listed.

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