The Art and Craft of Gardening

Great Dixter is a renowned and innovative garden that depends on a high degree of craftsmanship to maintain and develop its year round display. This is an advanced course, exploring and teaching the skills necessary for establishing, developing and managing a garden in this style.

Teaching takes place monthly through the year from January to December, focusing on specific seasonal tasks and on understanding what’s happening in the garden at that time. The teaching is delivered through seminars, demonstrations and critical appraisal of the garden. There will be opportunities for discussion and to ask questions.

The course is suitable for students with some gardening experience whether as a keen amateur gardener or garden professional.While the course covers the fundamentals, the aim is to extend students’ plant knowledge, enhance their technical abilities and give them confidence to experiment and explore their own gardening practice.

Course topics

The course will include the following topics, each taught and explored in the style of Great Dixter:

  • History, philosophy and design of Great Dixter
  • Soil preparation and planting
  • Propagation by seed, cuttings and division
  • Supporting, staking, and tying-in plants
  • Planting for succession, and border management
  • Pruning in winter and summer
  • Shade gardening
  • Pot displays
  • Meadow gardening
  • Exotic garden
  • Bedding displays
  • Bulbs: using and planting
  • Tender plants, growing and protecting
  • Self-sowers
  • Composts and growing media
  • Cut flowers and vegetables
  • Hedges and topiary
  • Developing borders


Tutors for the course are Edward Flint and Fergus Garett


2020 Dates – FULLY BOOKED

Wednesdays, 9am-4pm

Term 1 –  15th January, 12th February, 11th March,  22nd April

Term 2 – 13th May, 17th June, 8th July, 19th August
Plus summer trip (date to be arranged)

Term 3 –  23rd September, 14th October, 18th November, 16th December

This course is based in our Education Room at Dixter Farm and in the garden at Great Dixter. Each day will start at 9am with an informal tutorial at the Long Border with seminars beginning at 10am. The day finishes at 4pm. Lunch and refreshments are provided. Course notes will be given. Group size will be limited to 20 participants.

2021 Dates – TBC

To register an interest in the 2021 course and for all other course enquiries please contact Catherine Haydock by phone: 01797 334042 or email:


£600 per term (3 terms). This includes Great Dixter Friends membership and associated benefits including 10% discount in the nursery and free entry to the garden, and a summer social trip with a private garden visit (date to be confirmed).

Bursary Place:

Great Dixter is committed to education and professional development and as such will be offering a free bursary place on this course in 2020 for an individual under 30 years of age who might otherwise not be able to attend owing to financial constraints. We are seeking a person working or training in the area of gardening or garden design who can demonstrate that this course will significantly benefit their professional development. To apply please send a CV and covering letter to: Catherine Haydock