Sissinghurst Castle…

By the time October rolls around, I’m ready to put the garden to bed for the season.  This has been a spectacular fall so far, and it’s been a joy to extend the season,  but I’ve run out of (gardening) gas.   After being bent over this past week planting many, many bulbs, my back and knees are protesting.  Now it’s time to start daydreaming about how to enhance the garden next year…and, thankfully, it starts all over again in a few months.  The gardens at Sissinghurst Castle offer so much inspiration…

I don’t want to go on and on about my London summer vacation, and I won’t after this post, but I couldn’t not talk to you about our visit to Sissinghurst Castle.  It’s not the castle that’s the draw; it’s the amazing gardens located near Kent, a two-hour drive from London.

Vita Sackville-West (portrait left) and her husband Harold Nicolson bought Sissinghurst Castle on 450 acres of land in 1930 for £12,375.  The property’s history dates back to the 1500s…during the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763),  it was a prisoner-of-war camp, and before their ownership, it was a pig farm.  It was in shambles and sat empty for two years before they bought it.  The garden, basically non-existent, consisted of several oak trees, a quince, and a single old rose.

Vita, a poet and author, and Harold, a diplomat, had a most unconventional, open marriage.  Each had multiple affairs-mostly with the same sex  (Virginia Woolf was one of Vita’s lovers), but together, they created a national treasure for the UK that is considered one of the great gardens of the world.

Harold designed the layout of the garden, described as an imitation of a house, not an imitation of a garden. This would have been a massive undertaking considering the size of the garden.  The garden is formal by design but within the boundaries (rooms) are romantic and natural elements.  Each garden room is enclosed by high-clipped yew hedges presenting a different character and colour scheme…each room provides a glimpse into the next.  Vita was responsible for the plantings.  She packed as many plantings as possible into each “room” and especially loved the old roses.  The garden has 200 varieties of roses.

This photo above is of the tower entrance to the gardens.






“A good start in life is as important to plants as it is to children”.

                                      Vita Sackville-West


This photo is of the passway through the tower with the gardens beyond.



These photos are entrances from one garden into the next.

                              …and then “The White Garden“…


My favourite “room” is the “White Garden”, a combination of green, grey and silver foliage and white flowers.  This concept was popular at the end of the 19th century, and as I talk to fellow gardeners and friends, I believe this garden colour scheme is making a comeback.  The repetition of colour and flowers surrounded by tightly clipped boxwood hedges is so quiet and calming.

Photos of the White Garden.



In the centre of the White Garden is an iron arbour with a vigorous rosa mulliganii climbing up.

This is a photo I took looking up from the inside of the arbour.  It was magical…I wondered, is this something I could incorporate into my own garden…hmmmmm





I’m sure many of you will be out in your gardens raking leaves and doing the fall cleanup, working up an appetite for a fabulous turkey dinner.  Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  xox Judy

14 thoughts on “Sissinghurst Castle…”

  1. Loved this article Judy! I’ve put Sissinghurst Castle on my ‘must see’ list. Sadly your pictures didn’t open for me. I will try again and cross my fingers!

    1. Hi Christine, I KNOW you would love see the gardens at Sissinghurst! It’s a little tricky getting out there by train…we went by car, but it is well worth the effort. xox Judy❤️

  2. Thank you for sharing these gardens Judy. Food for thought here.
    Unbelievably, my Geraniums are still going strong. I think they are loving the cooler temperatures. Normally, I would have everything pulled out by now, but things are really hanging in there. It is so lovely to have this extended Summer/Fall weather. But, I do see that Greenland is already getting their Christmas trees decorated with the new decorations for this year!

    1. Hi Karen, Hasn’t this just been the most fabulous fall so far. I agree that it is hard to pull out still beautiful flowers. I have very few yellow leaves in the garden…normally the trees are almost bare by now. Happy Thanksgiving, xox Judy❤️

  3. Oh Judy such an interesting story and wonderful photos of the gardens! So inspiring… I can imagine that arbour around your fountain…endless possibilities 🌺🌸
    Happy Thanksgiving 🍂🦃🍁

    1. HI Catherine, I know you love travelling too and discovering new places. This is a garden I’ve wanted to see for some time…and yes, I, too, imagine an arbour around the fountain. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, xox Judy❤️

  4. Absolutely loved the information surrounding the history of these beautiful gardens at Sissinghurst! I love gardens like these where you never know what’s around the corner or, in this case, through each entrance. Reminds me of that story The Secret Garden. Enjoy your beautiful garden Judy (preferably with your feet up and a glass of wine in hand😂!) and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Hugs, Karen xo🥰

    1. Thank you Karen…I loved the “Secret Garden” too and agree that it is the little surprises in a garden that makes them so memorable. We had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday so today will be a relax and recovery day…hope your weekend was fun too. xox Judy❤️

  5. I, personally, have loved your pieces inspired by your travels in Britain this summer and would love to read more of this type of reflection.

    1. Thank you Lynn, I always hesitate to over share and know that not all of us have the same interests. After such a drought in travelling over the past two years, I was so happy to be back out in the world and soak up the opportunities for us to enjoy. xox Judy❤️

  6. Beautiful pictures, Judy. We also managed to visit Paris and Nice in September. It was so nice to be there again and enjoy the scenery, climate, food, and the atmosphere.

    1. Hi Eva, I am so happy you were able to go back to France. I think September is the best month to be in Paris and is there anything more beautiful than to walk down those lovely boulevards when the autumn leaves start to fall? xox Judy❤️

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