Sep 15, 2008

Meadows and memories of Dixter

The first thing you see when entering Great Dixter is the Meadow, where constant change slows down a bit..... just a little bit. The past six months were spent watching what happened here.

This is the front meadow over the course of the 6 months of my time...

March First
Here are the candy colored hues of the crocuses and the narcissus blooms, only a taste of what was to come.

March Thirty First

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

April Seventh
Narcissus pseudonarcissus sleeps and Frittilaria meleagris weeps.

April Twenty First

The purple mottled foliage of Orchis mascula, or the Early-purple Orchid, a native plant to England.

May Sixth

Narcissus poeticus, one of the most beautiful of it's Genus.......

Don't you agree?!This is always the last Narcissus species to bloom.

Hoop petticoat, Narcissus bulbocodium, in a small clump near the walk.

May Twelfth
The meadows are awash in blue with all three Camassia species, C. quamash, C. cusickii, and C. leichtlinii, in bloom now competing mostly with the bright yellow flowers of Ranunculus auricomis.
An American native, Camassia quamash in the meadow.
May Twenty-first
The meadows are still predominately blue and yellow in color with touches of pink. This is due to the 3 Camassia species, Ranunculus auricomis and the lovely orchid, Orchis morio. The beautiful bloom of Orchis morio, the Green-winged orchid, one of the other native orchids of England.The arching head of dock, Rumex acetosa Cammassia quamash, Ranunculus auricomis and Red Clover, Trifolium pratense, make a colorful combination. The meadows are always teeming with insects and life.
June Third
This is the most diverse I have seen the meadow in colors and plants yet. There are yellows (Ranunculus auricomus & Rhinanthus minor 'Hay Strewing'), whites of the ox-eye daisies, , pink, and fuschia/magenta flowers of the orchids, and the tans, browns and oatmeal (is this a real color!?) colors of the grass seedheads, which sway with every passing breeze.
Ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, and Dactylorhiza fuschii, or the Common spotted-orchid in the background. Rhinanthus minor 'Hay Strewing' is my favorite plant in the whole meadow. This plant parasitizes the grasses in the meadow, slowing down their vigor so that other plants can establish themselves . Without this plant, the competition of the grasses might prove too much and choke out the other plants in the meadow. This native to England, has the common name Hay Rattle due to the noise it makes when the wind shakes the pods that hold the seed.
June Ninth
You can notice the meadow slightly starting to go over now.

June Sixteenth
The colors of the meadow seem to have softened a bit. There are the soft purple of the orchid blooms, enhanced by the white petals of the ox-eye daisy set off of just so by the small yellow blooms of Ranunculus auricomis, otherwise known as the meadow buttercup.
June Twenty-third
The dominant color of the meadow now happens to be browns, tans and the many shades between due to all of the grasses that hold their seedheads high.
The lovely disc-like seed pods of Rumex acetosa take on a colorful transparency.

July Seventh

The meadow is full of ripening seed by this point and takes on subtle tones and hues. The purple gray haze is the bloom of Agrostis tenuis, which gives the meadow a soft peaceful feel, against the bright green of the yew hedges.
July Thirty-first
As the meadow continues to go dormant, it displays the many brown and tan shades of another season that will soon come to an end........

August Eleventh

The meadow has started to get cut here. The cuttings then go to other gardens that would like to create a meadow where it is laid on the appropriate area, in hopes of the seed falling into the ground to establish themselves. And here it is freshly cut.

August Nineteenth

Within a few days, the plants were already recovering from being mowed.
September First
The meadow is fully green again and is waiting for the fall crocus to emerge. It was fascinating to see how quickly the meadow changed over the course of time and helped give me a better understanding of how plant communities can work together.

So while watching the meadows at Dixter, I felt it gave me more of an intimate connection with a part of the garden, having noticed all of the subtle details and changes that could've gone unnoticed while on the way down the path towards the house. So to see these lively areas change, in color and texture and grow in height, there was a touch of sadness to see them get cut because I knew my time at Dixter had almost come full circle.
I'll never forget the beautiful house that anchors the whole place, and the changing colors of it's orange tiled roof in the everchanging English light.. Or the many combinations of colors be it as simple as the piercing orange Kniphofia blooms against the soothing blue sky......
or the stock beds with its ever changing symphony and cast of characters...
whether they were more subtle
or dramatic
they kept me watching and involved.

or to be in the exotic garden and feel like a child lost in the jungle while drooling over the many jeweled toned treasures we call flowers......

I won't ever forget..

But time doesn't stay still and the seasons march on, being reminded by the gourds on the compost pile
or the apples ripening on trees

my memories of Great Dixter will be everlasting and to my friends there, it doesn't matter if I met you once, worked with you everyday, bothered you at your computer, or lived across the hall from you...... you all made it that much more amazing and unlike anywhere else i have ever been. Thanks for adopting me into your world of garden eccentrics....... you made my 6 months there worth every second.. thank you so much!


  1. this is a beautiful, poetic, and very informative blogspot.........thankyou for sharing your experience and knowledge on line.


  2. This is a wonderful description of the annual progression of blooms in the Great Dixter Meadow.