Creativity or Cacophony? Kaleidoscope of Colours at Dixter this week

Dixter is never boring.  The planting design class and I went to look at colour and texture this week, and we were not disappointed with the amount going on!

Beautiful ballerinas in the sunken garden above, drifts of tangy tangerine scent and contrast with the acid green Euphorbia polychroma, quite a tart palette..

Until we met sweet red drifts of crimson tulip, bellis and dusky forget me not.

A regal balance of deep purples and white, leavened by the lighter Honesty behind.

For texture and form the repetition of shapes in the soft leaved Cardoon and the soft pink arching petals is excellent:

This sage and disky lilac was one of my favourites, albeit unusually demure for the Christo/Fergus show!.:

Bronze fennel is on many of my planting plans at the moment, I blame Luciano Giubbilei for his deliciously tactile planting at last year's Chelsea..  I hope my clients remember to cut it back and don't blame me

when it self seeds..

The red -> lilac -> purple path below is a classic foreground -> background palette, and draws you down the path as to a horizon:

White is a tricksy one in many colour combinations, I think it would have worked here if the tulips were limited to the two matching purples, but add the darker and the stray buff pink, and it begins to fall apart..
or do you think the exception enhances the rule?

Again white proves a difficult colour to mix with the brights, here self seeded Honesty:

An utterly classic vision of Spring beauty, Magnolia, Tulip China pink and Forget me nots on the Lutyens steps:

The long border filling up, no visit would be complete without a quick peak at that:

I don't know how wonderful Fergus Garrett is managing to keep going at the moment, he teaches, he gardens, he inspires his team and the house at Great Dixter is undergoing huge renovations at the same time.
There is a Friends' day there on May 17th, which I hope to sneak out to.. so I'll ask him!

For info on visiting and becoming a friend see The Great Dixter website

Finally a fabulous colour combo that Christopher Lloyd would have loved:


  1. Beautiful pics and some beautiful tulips. I designed my first garden last year (the front of my rental home) and learned quickly that color combos are very important. And I agree white is a hard one to match. I really don't like it with reds, but blues and purples can work. I really liked that pic of the dark purple and white. The other pic with the buff pink I agree is too much.

  2. It's funny, I often think of white as a neutral, assuming it will play well with all colors, but it seems perhaps only green, the universal color of a garden, does that well. I agree that white, with the red, is too stark a contrast. I would think yellow might be better suited than the white with those red tulips.

  3. The red fennel is an amazing addition to a spring garden - so soft and feathery looking. Must add it to a border here at home. Also, you are right about the sage and dusky lilac - a beautiful soft palette. And the shot with the magnolia looks like a Monet painting. Gorgeous.

  4. inspiring photos Marian, the ballerinas are my favourite at the moment, the sage and dusky lilac is adorable, i must remember to copy that one day, and you are right, the dark tulip and stray buff do spoil the design.

  5. Marian, just looking at these fabulous pictures makes me regret not planting any tulips. My biggest problem would be deciding what colour palette to choose, I love them all!

  6. Who am I to criticize anything at Great Dixter! I am enjoying every picture. I do love that last color combo you showed. And the Lutyens steps photo is breathtaking! Thanks for sharing these photos of a fantastic garden!

  7. Lovely colour combinations, fab photos too.


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