Saturday, February 11, 2006

Christopher Lloyd

As most people have heard by now, Christopher Lloyd, perhaps one of the most challenging and innovative gardeners of the twentieth century, died on 27 January.

I first came across him through one of his earlier books "The Well-Tempered Garden". The book is a series of short pieces on the various aspects of gardening.

The most powerful (and incredibly liberating) message I took away from this book is to do gardening tasks when you remember them or are in the mood for them - don't be rigidly contolled by the rules of when certain things should be done.

Of course certain jobs are sometimes better done at particular times of the year - but better to do the job than not and don't be constrained!

I think that that attitude permeated his gardening approach and led to innovations such as the famous (some would still argue infamous) removal of his rose garden, experimentation with hot colours and foliage, and also the establishment of meadows within the confines of his father's yew hedges.

His obituary in the Guardian is excellent and gives a good sense of the person.

I was incredibly privileged to meet him one June afternoon in 2001 with a group of Australian friends (we were visiting gardens in the week before the decennial International Rock Garden Conference hosted jointly by the AGS and SRGC). The introdution came via Otto Fauser who was one of our party (and is a fabulous gardener in his own right).

We spent a lovely time touring his garden and house (Great Dixter), and had afternoon tea on the south facing terrace. I am deeply in love with Edwin Lutyens architecture and the house has a whole chapter in "Houses and Gardens by E.L. Lutyens" by Lawrence Weaver. It was quite exciting to be sitting on a terrace that I had previously only viewed in a book. Needless to say Christopher Lloyd was a generous host and the visit was a highlight of the trip.


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