Sissinghurst Castle Garden is one of the most renowned gardens in all of England. We visited the garden on a rainy summer day, petals dripping, colors saturated. I managed to photograph whilst holding an umbrella. As Robert Downey Jr. said, “Everything looks better wet.” In my estimation this definitely holds true for flowers! This garden is enchanting. Red bricks shine brightly next to the green boxwoods. Around every corner there is a new lavish display of potted plants, a sculpture, a unique walkway. The “White Garden” of Sissinghurst created a stir and they became quite the fashion. This legacy endures as many famous (and not-at-all-famous) gardens have a space dedicated to white flowers. My whole front garden is white and silver (and green, of course)!
The site of Sissinghurst Castle and garden dates all the way back to 1300. The property has served many functions over time, ranging from a Saxon pig farm, a deer park, prisoner-of-war camp, a workhouse, and a home for laborers, and a working farm.
Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson purchased the derelict castle and grounds in 1930 and began the renovation and garden creation immediately. In fact, the early-summer-flowering rose Mme Alfred Carriere was the first thing that Vita and Harold planted at Sissinghurst, on the day their offer to buy was accepted! I think that is incredibly endearing and I wish I had the space for my own. Perhaps when we purchase a mansion I can sneak one in. 🙂
“Vita was a writer who found her greatest popularity in the weekly columns she contributed as gardening correspondent of The Observer, which incidentally—for she never touted it—made her own garden famous. Sissinghurst garden is designed as a series of ‘rooms’, each with a different character of colour and/or theme, the walls being high clipped hedges and many pink brick walls. The rooms and ‘doors’ are so arranged that, as one enjoys the beauty in a given room, one suddenly discovers a new vista into another part of the garden, making a walk a series of discoveries that keeps leading one into yet another area of the garden. Harold Nicolson spent his efforts coming up with interesting new interconnections, while Vita Sackville-West focused on making the flowers in the interior of each room exciting.” Certainly both succeeded. Vita passed away in 1962 and Harold decided that Vita’s beloved Sissinghurst should be given over to the care of The National Trust.
Visiting this garden gave me yet another push towards wanting to live in England so I can frequent English gardens in the UK to my heart’s content. With garden rooms designed specifically for Spring with thousands of flowering bulbs, a formal rose garden, a South Cottage garden that is most vibrant in late summer, and multiple scenic walks– the garden longs to be visited more than once. My dream is to be a frequent visitor and photograph Sissinghurst Gardens in every season. And to share all of those images with you.