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”.
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