Homage to a great gardener
Christopher Lloyd always felt he had lived his life back to front. He spent his youth with the elderly, and his old age with the young. Living in reverse meant he saved his most flamboyant and uninhibited gardening for last.
Lloyd’s name will forever be linked with Great Dixter – the Lutyens-designed house and garden in Sussex where he was born, worked and lived to the end of his life. It was his great passion and the laboratory for his many gardening experiments and observations.
In a programme called Gardener Provocateur to be screened on BBC 2 on Friday 15 December at 9pm, Christopher Lloyd’s friend Alan Titchmarsh explores the formative influence of his talented and strong-minded parents; the creation of the Edwardian house that would become the centre of his world; and the development of a shy boy who always felt a misfit into a grand old man of gardening, liberated by his literary talent and plantsmanship.
As a guest at Dixter, Alan Titchmarsh enjoyed Lloyd’s legendary hospitality – the delicious meals Lloyd taught himself to cook, trips to Glyndebourne opera and conversation about literature, music and gardening of course. Lively weekend parties fed Lloyd’s hungry intellect, fuelled his imagination and kept him young at heart.
Although Lloyd accepted that the garden was only his for his lifetime, he wanted his philosophy of invigorating gardening to continue at Great Dixter. He knew his legacy was safe in the hands of his friend and talented head gardener Fergus Garret, but the future of the house and garden itself rests on the ability of the Secure Great Dixter Campaign to raise £3-million to save the house from sale.
Alan believes Great Dixter, which includes a super kitchen garden, still lovingly tended to by ‘Christo’s’ vegetable gardener William Hurton, is a cause worth fighting for. “Christo was adamant that he didn’t want Dixter to become a shrine or a museum piece. And in Fergus’s hands, the flame of originality and excitement that Christo lit is still burning bright. I hope with all my heart that the fight to save Dixter succeeds,” Alan told KG.
For more information about the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, contact the administration team on 01797 252878, firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have any memories of this enigmatic gardener, or of the fabulous gardens at Dixter?