If you could only visit one garden in the UK, which one would you choose? My choice: Great Dixter. It’s not a palace or a castle, it’s a house, a very old house (mid 15th century). Dixter sits on 5 acres, which is a small estate as the great gardens of the UK go. Aaron Bertelsen, the vegetable gardener at Great Dixter gave the last lecture of 17th Winter Lecture Series at NYBG. Walking up the main path to the house at Great Dixter is the turning point. If you are not turned off by the meadow, you are in right place. Christopher Lloyd was a rogue gardener and Fergus Garrett has carried his legacy one step further and Aaron Bertelsen, a native of New Zealand, seems to be equally irreverent.
Bertelsen considers the vegetable garden at Dixter traditional.
No matter how conventional the veg garden might be, the compost heap is a show stopper. It’s hard to convey exactly how tall these compost heaps are: they are skyscrapers of compost heaps. It’s the only place that pumpkins can grow at Dixter.
Another clever bit of gardening. Forget-me-knots (Myosotis) are used to suppress weeds in the veg garden and pulled out before they set seed.
Bertelsen introduced me to one new veg: Malabar Spinach (Basella alba), which is not a true spinach, but has a similar flavor and use. Native to Asia, it grows to a height of 8 ft.
Asked what his favorite vegetable is: the beet
His least favorite: beans.
“They sulk a lot. They are the teenagers of the vegetable garden.”
Best tool: a notebook
Second best: a titanium trowel
Bertelsen finished with a quote from Christopher LLoyd: “If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.”
Aaron Bertelsen – Great Dixter Vegetable Garden (blog)