Christopher Lloyd (gardener)

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Christopher Lloyd
Born2 March 1921
Northiam, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Died27 January 2006 (2006-01-28) (aged 84)
Hastings, United Kingdom
Other namesChristo
Notable work
  • The Mixed Border
  • The Well-Tempered Garden
  • Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners

Christopher "Christo" Hamilton Lloyd, OBE (2 March 1921 – 27 January 2006) was an English gardener and a gardening author of note, as the 20th-century chronicler for thickly planted, labour-intensive country gardening.[1]


Lloyd was born in Great Dixter, into an upper-middle-class family, the youngest of six children. In 1910, his father, Nathaniel Lloyd, an Arts and Crafts architect, author, printer and designer of posters and other images for confectionery firms,[2]), bought Great Dixter, a manor house in Northiam, East Sussex near the south coast of England. Edwin Lutyens was hired to renovate and extend the house and advise on the structure of the garden.[3] Nathaniel Lloyd loved gardens, designed some of this one himself, and passed that love on to his son. Lloyd learned the skills required of a gardener from his mother Daisy, who did the actual gardening[4] and introduced him as a young boy to Gertrude Jekyll,[3] who was a considerable influence on Lloyd, in particular with respect to "mixed borders".[5] His mother Daisy, to whom he had remained close his entire life, died at Great Dixter on 9 June 1972, aged 91.[6][7]

After Wellesley House (Broadstairs) and Rugby School, he attended King's College, Cambridge, where he read modern languages before entering the Army during World War II.[7] After the war he received his bachelors in Horticulture from Wye College, University of London, in 1950. He stayed on there as an assistant lecturer in horticulture[8] until 1954.

In 1954, Lloyd moved home to Great Dixter and set up a nursery specialising in unusual plants. He regularly opened the house and gardens to the public.[9] Lloyd did not do all of the gardening himself, but, like his parents, employed a staff of gardeners. In 1991, Fergus Garrett became his head gardener, and continued in that role after Lloyd's death.[citation needed]

In 1979 Lloyd received the Victoria Medal of Honour, the highest award of the Royal Horticultural Society, for his promotion of gardening and his extensive work on their Floral Committee.[10] In 1996, Lloyd was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Open University. In 2000, he was appointed as an officer of the Order of the British Empire.[8]

Today, the Garden is run by a trust under the direction of Fergus Garrett.


Lloyd was a great-grandson of Edwin Wilkins Field, a law-reforming solicitor, and the great uncle of Christopher Lloyd, the author of numerous non-fiction books, including the popular What on Earth? Happened from the Big Bang to the Present Day and a series of children's historical Wallbook titles.[11][12]


Lloyd was firmly rooted in the Arts and Crafts style of garden.[3] In most ways he was, like his mother and Gertrude Jekyll, a practical gardener. He said "I couldn't design a garden. I just go along and carp."[1] Despite his extensive work with flowers, he had an appreciation for the garden as a whole. He also understood human nature. One professional gardener likes to quote Lloyd from his book Foliage Plants on how "it is an indisputable fact that appreciation of foliage comes at a later stage in our education, if it comes at all."[13]


Lloyd rapidly felt the need to share his gardening discoveries and published The Mixed Border in 1957,[14] which was followed by Clematis in 1965,[15] and The Well-Tempered Garden in 1970.[16] Lloyd had begun a book on the use of exotic plants in British gardens when he died. This his gardening friends and colleagues completed as Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners in 2007.[17]

In Meadows at Great Dixter and Beyond, published in 2004, Lloyd explored the use of meadow land around his own house.[18]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Christopher Lloyd"". The Times. London, UK. 30 January 2006. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Nathaniel Lloyd". Historic England Archive. Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom: The National Archives.
  3. ^ a b c Buchan, Ursula (11 February 2006). "Gardeners' Gardener". The Spectator. Vol. 300, no. 9262. pp. 46–47. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021.
  4. ^ "About the Author: Christopher Lloyd". Flagstaff, Arizona: Brightside Books. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Liven Up Your Long Border". Fine Gardening. No. 131. March 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021.
  6. ^ Hind, Charles (2 November 1995). "Great Dixter, Sussex" (PDF). Country Life. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b Goldman, Lawrence, ed. (2013). "Lloyd, Christopher". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 698–699. ISBN 978-0-19-967154-0.
  8. ^ a b Druse, Ken (31 January 2006). "Christopher Lloyd, 84, a Gardener of Wit, Unafraid to Break the Rules, Dies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 November 2018.
  9. ^ Keith, Teri (12 December 2015). "Christopher Lloyd, gardener extraordinaire". The Herald-Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021.
  10. ^ Plant Committees of the Royal Horticultural Society Archived 2006-12-30 at the Wayback Machine The Floral Committee was subsequently divided into Floral A, Floral B, etc., and then reorganized as the various Plant Committees.
  11. ^ Meehan, Meagan (20 November 2018). "Absolutely Everything: Interview with Bestselling Author Christopher Lloyd". Kidskintha.
  12. ^ "Writer and gardener dies aged 84". BBC News. 28 January 2006.
  13. ^ ""Gardening Advice: Garden Design" Royal Horticultural Society". Archived from the original on 30 December 2006.
  14. ^ Lloyd, Christopher Hamilton (1957), The Mixed Border W. H. & L. Collingridge, London, UK. Printed in a new edition for The Royal Horticultural Society in 1986 and 1991.
  15. ^ Lloyd, Christopher (1965), Clematis Country Life, London, UK. Reprinted by Capability's Books in 1989.
  16. ^ Lloyd, Christopher (1970) The Well-Tempered Garden Collins, London, UK, ISBN 0-00-211929-3. Reprinted by Viking in 1985 and Weidenfeld & Nicolson Illustrated in 2003.
  17. ^ Donald, Caroline ( (25 November 2007). "The Sunday Times best books 2007: gardening". The Sunday Times. p. 54.
  18. ^ Wilson, Kendra (7 April 2016). "Required Reading: Meadows at Great Dixter and Beyond". Gardenista. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander, Rosemary; et al. (2010). Dear Christo: Memories of Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. London: Timber Press. ISBN 978-1-60469-223-5.
  • Anderton, Stephen (2010). Christopher Lloyd: His life at Great Dixter. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-8113-0.
  • Pavord, Anna (2010). The view from Great Dixter: Christopher Lloyd's garden legacy. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. ISBN 978-1-60469-215-0.

External links[edit]