Our Methods

Christopher Lloyd’s Nursery

The Nursery was started by Christopher Lloyd in 1954 after teaching at Wye College. Specialising in clematis and plants that he liked and deemed garden-worthy, he started with a couple of cold frames and a glasshouse. We still raise plants using the same methods to this day, and we remain a small, personal and professional nursery.

Our Potting Compost

Our potting compost is based on the John Innes formula. Sterilised loam, grit, composted bark, peat and fertilizer are the ingredients we use. Our loam is turf collected from surrounding fields which are cut, stacked and left to mature, before being tilled, graded and sterilised. Christopher Lloyd used to collect soil from molehills for his potting compost in the beginning. A neighbour known as ‘the Colonel’ later built him a small soil sterilizer, replaced later by the ‘Terraforce’ which we still use for sterilising our loam.

Our compost is neither cheap nor quick to produce, but we firmly believe in its superiority over peat or similar composts for the following reasons:

  • Plants establish themselves more easily in the garden. Because our compost mirrors garden soil, plants raised by us do not experience the trauma of having to make the transition from a pampered life growing in a soft rootzone to the reality of life in ‘real’ soil. Plants in our compost grow tougher and are better prepared for garden situations.
  • Loam contains natural nutrients and trace elements essential for healthy plant growth.
  • There is better drainage/moisture retention balance.
  • It is much easier to re-wet if it dries out.

Pests and Disease

We are not organic at Great Dixter but use a combination of cultural, biological and as a last resort, judicious chemical control.