As my daughter is at University in Canterbury, I have been able to have an excuse to head East in search of exciting gardens to visit. One at the top of my list has always been Sissinghurst and I was lucky to visit on the last day in May when the beautiful irises were at their very best.
Arts and Craft garden
Sissinghurst is a Grade I listed garden near Cranbrook in Kent and is one of the most famous gardens in England. It was created by the writer and poet, Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson in the 1930’s. It is a prime example of the Arts and Crafts style, where gardens should imitate nature. Vita planted in this style using design principles of Gertrude Jekyll and Lutyens who were the most famous designers of this period and style. However, as the owner of this beautiful garden, it is clear that she added her heart and soul to this place too. Any garden lover would be bonkers not to visit!
The Rose Garden
Expecting to fall in love with The White garden, I actually preferred the Rose garden. Vita wanted the Rose garden to be a ‘tumble of roses and honeysuckle, figs and vines’ and it certainly has that feel of abundance. The strong symmetrical design shows Harold’s fondness for strict geometry. There are narrow brick pathways lined with box and a circular shaped hedge in the middle. The two features together -the blowsiness of the flowers against the strict mathematical hard landscaping -gives this garden a very romantic feel. The planting was similar to Montisfont with roses, foxgloves and peonies but the irises gave it an added edge.
The White Garden
The famous White garden was where most of the visitors flocked first. I went there last as I wanted to experience it when I’d seen the rest (and a lovely National Trust guide told me to walk that way!). This garden was once filled with roses but when they outgrew this space, the White garden was created. Here you find white and silver plants cleverly intertwined to create different shades and textures. Planting includes white globe alliums, foxgloves, Lambs Ears, Pom-Pom Dahlias (not flowering yet), Ranunculus, Malus and white and cream irises. The garden is quite lovely and many visitors were enjoying this space.
The South Cottage Garden
The South Cottage garden was were Vita and Harold planted their first rose and was a riot of red’s, oranges and yellow. It was a Mme Alfred Carriere which they planted on the day they got the keys to their new home! That struck a cord with me as I can just imagine their excitement at moving to such a charming place! This part of the garden only opened last year and still remains a very private garden space away from the castle. The delightful cottage becomes home to the present owners in the summer and is where Vita had her bedroom.
The Moat Walk
The Moat Walk has the remains of an Elizabethan wall on one side with a Wisteria and some gorgeous yellow azaleas on the other. It’s a slightly strange addition and seems a little out of place to the rest of the garden. It is a charming space although roped off on my visit.
And now for the Irises…
I’ve never been very good at growing Irises. I think I love too many plants and end up planting everything too close together! Irises need to be able to breathe so don’t like too many plants around them. You wouldn’t know this at Sissinghurst though as they are planted with an array of other plants! I chatted to one of the gardeners and he said that they didn’t liked to be planted too deeply either. Here are some of my favourites:
I hope you have enjoyed reading my post about Sissinghurst Castle garden. I visited on the last day in May so I’m sure as the summer progresses there will be new things to see and enjoy. Another great post about the new garden they are creating at Sissinghurst can be read HERE
A blog about the renovation of our old house and it’s garden in the English countryside. I also blog about interiors, general gardening tips and visits to glorious gardens.