Great Dixter is a truly inspirational garden. Its magic is created not only by the extraordinary planting and exceptional horticulture but also by the strength of the design and layout of the garden.  Much of the garden was originally designed by the leading architect of the time Edwin Lutyens and in the years since, has been perfected by Christopher Lloyd followed by Fergus Garrett and his talented garden team.

Image of the Blue garden with a sculptural old tree in the foreground and the border to the rear.

The garden at Great Dixter provides the perfect setting for students to learn about the art and craft of garden design.  This innovative course is held one day per month and as the course unfolds you will be able to observe and study the garden throughout the changing seasons.  It will incorporate the fundamentals of garden design and is delivered through seminars, demonstrations and critical appraisal of the garden.  There will be a large element of practical design sessions, some of which will be garden based.

You may be looking to improve your design knowledge and perfect your creative skills or you may already work in the industry as a gardener or landscaper and want to extend the services that you can offer to your clients. Even if you simply want to improve your own garden, then this course will guide you through the process. Design projects and exercises will be supplied as part of the course, however students can also use their own garden as part of the coursework.

The Art and Craft of Garden Design is aimed at students who ideally have some prior design and gardening experience, however it will include the basic principles of design and so is suitable for those who are relatively new to the subject.

Course topics:

  • History, philosophy and design of Great Dixter
  • Garden history and its influence on gardens today
  • Design principles, critical analysis and what makes a successful garden
  • Drawing the garden design including plans, elevations and graphics
  • Surveying and site analysis of a garden
  • Design inspiration and conceptual design
  • Functional layout plans and how to initiate the design
  • Hard landscaping materials and construction techniques
  • Garden design exercises, studio sessions and workshops
  • Planting principles, designing with plants and creating planting plans
  • Sourcing, buying and setting out plants
  • Sketching and observing the garden
  • Rendering techniques for garden plans and drawings
  • How to run a garden design project and working with contractors
  • Planning and designing a kitchen garden
  • How to run a garden design practice


The tutor for this course is Annie Guilfoyle

Dates for 2024

Term 1: 5th March, 2nd April, 7th May

Term 2: 4th June, 9th July, 6th August,

Term 3: 3rd September, 22nd October,12th November

Time: 10am-5pm

This course is now sold out. Please email [email protected] for information about future dates

Funding towards these courses may be available from the Professional Gardeners Trust. For information on how to apply, please visit: