The future of Great Dixter, the medieval estate which has come to epitomise the English country garden, is to be guaranteed by a multimillion-pound lottery award aimed at conserving one of the country's most remarkable displays of flowers and plants.
The East Sussex grounds have been earmarked for a £4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will go towards a £7m project to secure its floral treasures for the nation.
Great Dixter's internationally renowned garden was created by one of Britain's most celebrated 20th century gardeners, Christopher Lloyd, the gardening writer and television personality known as "Christo", who died two years ago.
The 57-acre estate, with its Grade I-listed, medieval timber-framed house, was bought by his father, Nathaniel Lloyd, in 1910, at which time it had virtually no garden whatsoever. The younger Lloyd transformed it into one of the most profusely planted sites in the land, its flower beds and borders complemented by ornamental hedges, an orchard and a wildflower meadow. Thousands of people visit it annually to see the garden; others come to learn the art of horticulture.
"Great Dixter is one of England's most wonderful gardens and a permanent reminder of the vision of Christopher Lloyd," said Carole Souter, HLF's director. "The estate is run by a dedicated team who are passionate about its legacy. The support of the fund will help secure the future of this internationally important site, its collections and its contribution to the development and training of gardens and gardeners across the world."
The HLF said that, since 1991, much of the garden's success had been due to the relationship between Lloyd and Fergus Garrett, the head gardener, who inspired each other to create the most "generous garden imaginable". In 2004, Lloyd formed the Great Dixter Charitable Trust to receive his estate and to carry on managing it in the same spirit of innovation. Mr Garrett said: "We are delighted – Dixter deserves it. Christo left us a very special legacy and people love to come and be inspired.
"The HLF has given us a fantastic launch pad for our future plans. Now the hard work begins."