Christopher Lloyd established the garden at Great Dixter as a place where young and old gardeners would meet and share their excitement for plants. His writing in both books and the press stimulated gardeners all around the world.
Students come to Dixter to learn practical skills and develop a deeper understanding of the craft of traditional flower gardening. Fergus Garrett, Christopher’s friend and head gardener, continues his legacy, both in the borders at Great Dixter and through his work with students.
We also offer a bursary for EU based young and trainee gardeners for travel and training.
Great Dixter Nursery Traineeship
The chosen trainee will spend a year working in the nursery at Great Dixter learning from the team of experienced and knowledgeable staff who work there. The nursery operates in a traditional way, using skills and techniques that are no longer seen in larger or more commercial operations. These include making loam based compost using soil extracted and sterilised from our turf heap to a John Innes recipe, and collecting seed and other propagation material from the garden. The nursery is low-tech with little heated propagation space available, so bringing on and managing seedlings in cold frames is also key. The plants produced in this way have strong root stocks and suffer less from transplant shock when they are finally planted out into a garden.
The nursery trainee is paid minimum wage and is eligible for subsidised accommodation onsite.
The aim of the traineeship is to ensure that these old fashioned but effective methods are passed on to the next generation of nursery workers. The training will essentially be a practical one although anyone joining without a Level 2 in horticulture will receive time off and funding to gain an RHS qualification during their time with us.
We are looking for someone who sees their future as working in a nursery, and would like to gain the skills necessary to do this. Some experience and training is helpful, although not essential. A willingness to learn and make the most of the experience is!
The Anne Wright Scholarship fund is kindly supporting the nursery traineeship for this coming year.
We have also received generous donations from Tim Brotzman, Troy Marden and other friends who wish to remain anonymous.
Our current trainee, Shaun Blower, started at Great Dixter in September 2019. He grew up in Worksop, Nottinghamshire where at 14 he took it upon himself to transform his father’s overgrown back garden into a productive vegetable and cut flower garden. This sparked a passion for horticulture.
Shaun went on to study Art at Brighton where plants and organic matter featured heavily within his practice. Having completed his BA in Fine Art Sculpture, Shaun has spent the last two years working as an apprentice gardener at Highdown Gardens in West Sussex whilst simultaneously studying for his level 2 in horticulture at Plumpton College. Shaun feels that working at Great Dixter will kick start his future career in propagation.
Ellie Pay was our first nursery trainee at Great Dixter. She grew up in Sydney Australia where she played with a menagerie of free range pets in the garden and bushland behind her house. At eleven she moved to Kent, where she grew her first strawberries outside her window. Ellie knew as soon as she started her gardening career that she could never think of working as anything else.
“It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to be fully immersed in the work of such a well-respected nursery and garden”
Ellie went from her place at Dixter to De Hessenhof nursery in the Netherlands, run by Hans Kramer, widely regarded as one of the best organic nurseries where plants are trialled, propagated and sold on site. From there she completed the specialist certificate in display and nursery glasshouses.
Ellie runs a wonderful Instagram feed. You can follow her adventures here: @elliekatepay
Photo by Carol Casselden
The traineeship is generously funded by the Finnis Scott Foundation.
The Christopher Lloyd Scholarship
The Christopher Lloyd Scholar spends a year working in the garden at Great Dixter and learning from Fergus and the team. They are asked to complete a diary, horticultural projects and regular plant idents. They are paid minimum wage and are offered subsidised accommodation on site. As the programme is aimed at improving the skills within UK horticulture, the scholarship is open to EU applicants only. The Scholarship is generously funded by Goldman Sachs Gives and the Fieldfenn Trust.
The first Christopher Lloyd Scholar started at Dixter in September 2010.
2019-20 scholar Jamie Todd (pictured above) is from Hitchin, Hertfordshire. He previously worked as a freelance illustrator and in Art Galleries and Museums in London. He has also spent time living and working in Japan where he taught English in small towns and villages in Miyagi Prefecture.
His path in horticulture began in 2013, volunteering at Growing People, an independent horticultural therapy project in Letchworth Garden City, followed in 2015 with a year volunteering at Chelsea Physic Garden and Royal College of Physicians Garden.
In 2016 he began working in horticulture full-time, undertaking a traineeship at Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum where he stayed for three years.
Jamie is very interested in observing communities of plants in the wild and has recently been on botanising trips to Kyrgyzstan and the Pyrenees.
Previous scholars were Ben Jones, Henry Witheridge, Jonny Bruce, Edward Alderman, James Horner, Rachael Dodd, Maggie Tran, Jonny Bruce and Sara Jackson.
Click here to read the diary Maggie kept while she was with us.
The Anne Wright Scholarship
Named in honour of a great plantswoman, and friend of Christopher, the Anne Wright Scholarship was open to students studying horticultural courses at Hadlow College. The Scholar spent 6 weeks working at Dixter and living on site over the summer. This year the Anne Wright Scholarship fund is kindly supporting the nursery traineeship.
As well as formal scholarships, Great Dixter offers placements for trainee gardeners from around the world. Offered on a first come- first served basis, students are offered free accommodation and a small stipend to help with living expenses. Places are limited and book up long in advance, particularly during the summer months.
For more information about our student placements please contact Jane Wigan. email@example.com or tel: 01797 254048.
The Chanticleer USA Christopher Lloyd Scholarship at Great Dixter
The Chanticleer USA Christopher Lloyd Scholarship was conceived in order to provide a gardener from the United States with a year-long, practical education in the traditional style of ornamental gardening as practised at two of the world’s most respected gardens, Great Dixter in East Sussex, England, and Chanticleer near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
The scholarship offers an American gardener a chance to develop deep practical skills and an understanding of the ‘sense of place’ needed to manage complex, innovative flower gardens such as those at Great Dixter and Chanticleer. It is hoped that the scholar, in turn, will inspire a future generation of North American gardeners, passing on knowledge and skills.
The scholar spends 11 months, from September to July, living and working at Great Dixter, immersed in all aspects of the garden’s operations. The individual will also attend symposiums and visit gardens, plant trials and garden shows. The final month of the scholarship is spent working at Chanticleer. The scholar may also wish to complete an internship at Chanticleer prior to beginning at Great Dixter. They will receive a bursary from Chanticleer to cover their living costs while in the UK. Accommodation is provided at both gardens for the duration of the scholarship.
The scholarship, named in honour of Christopher Lloyd who lived and gardened at Great Dixter and established close ties with Chanticleer, is open to trainee gardeners who are U.S. citizens. The Scholarship is generously funded by Chanticleer.
Applications Now Open
Applications are being accepted through November 30th, 2019. The selection committee will consider all applications equally. Interviews will be held via Skype in December 2019.
Please complete the following application form and submit a cover letter and resume. Submit application materials to Jane Wigan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail using the address: Jane Wigan, Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 6PH, UK.
2019-20 Scholar, Margaret Easter grew up on a farm and chose to continue with horticulture while attending school at Warren Wilson College, a work college with a working farm and garden in North Carolina. She continued her work and learning through various community projects and at the North Carolina Arboretum on their horticultural team. More recently, she has been working and traveling throughout Europe volunteering in various gardens including with Peter Korn in Sweden, and the Explorers Garden in Pitlochry Scotland. Most recently she was an intern at Chanticleer.
Previous U.S. Scholars:
Ben kept a blog while at Dixter which you can read here.