Great Dixter’s garden in Christopher Lloyd’s words.
A yew archway, leading to a garden containing 18 topiary birds. Originally intended as pheasants, fighting cocks, blackbirds and suchlike, we nowadays refer to them all as peacocks. There is a central platform around which the topiary is thickest; my mother referred to it as a parliament of birds or as a conversation piece.
The topiary used to be linked by double hedges of lavender, but lavender hates our heavy clay soil and constantly dies out, leaving unpluggable gaps. So I replaced, some 20 years ago, with hedges of an old michaelmas daisy that was in the garden from the first, Aster lateriflorus ‘Horizontalis’. Not much above 2 feet tall, it has a sturdy, almost shrub-like habit, seething with white and purplish blossom in autumn and retaining a good shape till March, when we cut it down. The double rows are planted along the centre with an indigo blue ‘English’ iris, I. latifolia, which flowers at the turn of June-July.