Helen Yemm: an ordinary gardener goes back to school for a day at Great Dixter

Fergus Garrett,39,Head Gardener at Great Dixter House,Northiam,East Sussex
Fergus Garrett creates the pot display at Great Dixter, East Sussex Credit: Brian Smith

Real gardeners, it is generally agreed, get just as much, if not more, out of visiting gardens “off season” as much as “on”. After all, the corsetry that holds together a garden in full summer regalia is the result of the witchery and stitchery that goes on in winter when no one is looking. The garden at Great Dixter is, by proud admission of its famous head gardener Fergus Garrett, rather different from most in that there is something ground breaking and/or experimental going on there all the time, of which visitors cannot fail to be aware. 

Nevertheless, it was with almost feverish enthusiasm that I and a large and cheerful bunch of Great Dixter’s “Friends” recently flocked, in our warmest...

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