Friday, 9 July 2010

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens


Sissinghurst Castle Gardens are claimed to be the most visited in England. Certainly they were incredibly busy on the Monday we went along. Visitors from many countries and all ages thronged the garden with cameras and notebooks – this is a ‘Gardeners’ Garden’ and has been influential, not just in designing stately homes but for many small gardens.

Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson found the property derelict in 1930. Harold wrote in his diary that they found a vast accumulation of rubbish: ‘rusty iron, old bedsteads, old ploughshares, old cabbage stalks, old broken-down earth closets, old matted wire and mountains of sardine tins, all muddled up in a tangle of bindweed, nettles and ground elder’.

From this unpromising beginning, they created a beautiful garden. Harold was a classicist and laid out the structural scheme of the garden, dividing it into a series of compartments which could each be viewed separately.  The lime walk was his pride and joy.


DSCF1925-1 Vita was a romantic and the planting which fills the flower beds shows it. Possibly the most famous ‘room’ in the whole garden is the White Garden.

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The couple first opened the garden to the public in 1938. The proceeds raised £25.14s.6d and Vita nicknamed the visitors 'shillingses', as one shilling (5p) was the admission price. There are accounts of visitors encountering Vita working in the garden and chatting to her.  She gave cuttings to visitors and enjoyed correspondence with some of them.

Vita died in 1962 and Harold and her two sons decided that the best way to preserve the garden was for ownership to be transferred to the National Trust. This was completed in April 1967.

We took 183 usable photos between us and a few are up on Picasa.  I wish we could share them all with you.

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