Christopher Lloyd

Great Dixter was the home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006), who developed it into a hub of ideas and connections that spread out across the world.

Christopher Lloyd was educated at Rugby and King’s College Cambridge, where he read modern languages from 1939. He was called up in 1941, ultimately into the Royal Artillery, and spent some time in E. Africa before being demobbed in 1946.

From earliest childhood, a love of gardening, nurtured by his mother, had been the keystone of his life so after the army he took a degree in decorative horticulture at Wye College in Kent and subsequently joined the staff as a lecturer for two years. From there he returned to Great Dixter to make his living from the garden and devote his life to it.

Visitors were encouraged and a nursery was opened to sell them the plants they admired in the borders. A writing talent, also evident from an early age, came to the fore with the publication of his first book in 1957.

Thereafter the pattern was set for almost the next fifty years. A charismatic and sometimes controversial gardener, capable of inspiring a popular audience through both the written and the spoken word, and with a wonderfully atmospheric and picturesque garden at the heart of it all, Lloyd put Great Dixter on the international map. He was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Medal of Honour in 1997 and an OBE in 2000.

Christopher Lloyd’s writing

Christopher Lloyd spent his whole life, from childhood until his death aged 85, at work in the same garden and almost fifty years writing about it

Twenty-five books were the result, beginning with The Mixed Border in the Modern Garden (1957) and ranging from authoritative gems like Clematis (1965) to the encyclopedic Christopher Lloyd’s Garden Flowers – Perennials, Bulbs, Grasses, Ferns (2000) and the very personal The Well-Tempered Garden (1970) with its broad appeal to novice and experienced gardeners alike.

His writing style, honed over the years, was witty and entertaining, sometimes acerbic, sometimes eccentric, but always informative. It was also very disciplined. In 1963, Lloyd began writing a weekly column in Country Life magazine which he continued to deliver on time every week without fail for the next 42 years. There were besides, other long-standing journalistic commitments to Popular GardeningThe Guardian, and The Observer magazine. All of this combined to make Great Dixter the most written-about garden in the country and Christopher Lloyd one of the most celebrated gardeners, both here and abroad.

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