Great Dixter on a grey afternoon in May with rain threatening. The old manor sinks into the gentle hillside under steep-pitched roofs and tall chimneys; an Elizabethan galleon on a sea of meadows and woodlands that flow across this quiet corner of the Weald. The fields are full of buttercups and orchids but behind the high walls of neat-clipped yew Taxus baccata is a complex of hidden gardens filled with a jungle of colour.
The spring weeds such as cow parsley Anthriscus sylvestnis and barren brome Bromus sterilis and even the odd curled dock Rumex crisps are left to flourish amongst the exotic.
The Eastern Mediterranean has been transplanted to East Sussex: Jerusalem sage Phlomis fruticosus and smoke tree Cotinus coggygria are the most obvious. Pink Gladiolus italicus, and purple and white Allium contrast with bright yellow umbels on giant fennel Ferula communis. Elsewhere, Mahonia and Magnolia tell of the Himalayas and mulberry Morus nigra and Wisteria of China.
The long border is a beautiful Expressionist riot within the confines of a narrow rectangle of planting.
The whole is part bedlam, part sanctuary; in places a confusing yet intoxicating Rite of Spring, and in others, a melancholy reminder of pastoral England.