Student placements

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 Finnis Scott Foundation have been incredibly generous to Great Dixter in funding this traineeship for a second year running.

Our current trainee Sarah Williams started at Great Dixter at the start of September.

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.

2018-19 scholar Ben Jones (pictured left) is from West Penwith, Cornwall, where he grew up in a large creative family. He spent most of his late teens and twenties working on a variety of farms and gardens across the UK as well as extensive travelling and working abroad. He later obtained a BA (Hons) in Conservation Studies and then went on to train and work as a sculpture conservator at the Tate. However, after moving back to Cornwall and recently becoming a father he realised how important gardening is to him and wanted to pursue his career in horticulture. He is thrilled to have been selected as this year’s scholar.

Previous scholars were 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 is open to students studying horticultural courses at Hadlow College. The Scholar spends 6 weeks working at Dixter and living on site over the summer. Applications are handled by Hadlow College.

Other Placements

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. 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 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:

Jack McCoy

Ben Pick
Ben kept a blog while at Dixter which you can read here.