An Inspiring Talk by Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter Gardens
The Dixter gardens were beautiful, but it was a talk by head gardener Fergus Garrett (pictured, photo taken from Out of My Shed) that inspired me the most.
Fergus talked passionately about the gardens and the Dixter ethos, making several points that really fired my gardening soul. First of all, Fergus discussed how important independence is to Dixter. He cited the recent job given to a man who had previously been living on the streets of Hastings as an example. The staff at Dixter didn’t have to go through any committee to make the decision. They could take a chance on this gentleman because they thought he had something.
Fergus also talked about how Dixter were free to do whatever they liked with the gardens too. Last year, they let cow parsley grow freely to create a wispy affect in beds. The cow parsley was a risk, but they had the freedom to go with it, and simply see what happens.
Fergus likened this independent spirit to blogging, as a blogger isn’t controlled or influenced by anyone or anything. There is no industry to try and sway what you right. You are your own person, and you can write exactly what you want.
He also discussed the significance of experimentation in the garden, and of not fearing things going wrong. I immediately understood this. I’m often obsessing about making sure I get a good crop, regularly sticking to the same reliable varieties and only recently have I begun to try different things.
Listening to Fergus’s boundless enthusiasm for experimentation made me realise what I’m doing is right. This whole veg growing things is meant to be fun, a voyage of discovery.
Synergy with the Garden
Fergus made a comment that any house must have ‘…synergy with the garden’, regardless of the sizes involved. This reminded me of a quote by Alys Fowler, about starting from your back door and working outwards.
For the first time, I’ve got a house where I can sit and eat my dinner looking out over the garden. Its funny how just a few words can strike a chord and the synergy comment did just that. Contemplating the creation of a connection between my kitchen and my garden is such an inspiring thought but one I’d never had explained to me in such plain terms. This concept seems so obvious now, yet for months I’ve been searching for this meaning.
Veg Growing Similarities
Up until now, I’ve never been a flower gardener, and I was way out of my depth with all the latin plant names and clever bed management methods, but I can see a likeness in how Fergus gardens and a vegetable patch.
He talks about creating beds that provide colour and display for nine months of the year by growing successional plants that cohabit but appear at different times. No bed is ever left empty – something attractive always goes into a bare space.
Veg is the same, especially if you’re attempting to sow successionally, and I always try to fill a space with something.
I might not have known any of the plants Fergus was talking about (well, apart from the cow parsley) but I didn’t really need to. He speaks so fervently, and with such passion that it doesn’t matter whether he’s talking about flowers or veg, or even if you understand. Fergus simply inspires you to go outside and get gardening.