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The National Trust: Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

 

 

Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

 

The Prospect Tower at Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

The Prospect Tower at Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

As we learned previously, the property at Sissinghurst was already, for the most part demolished, or in need of much repair, by the time Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson bought the property in the 1930’s. That is why it looked so strange to me just to see a tower in the middle of the yard! You had to know that at one time there was a much larger castle and courtyards that surrounded the turret towers to fully appreciate what the grounds had looked like at this time. (See my 1770’s picture of Sissinghurst Castle in my previous post to get the picture.) That picture also reminded me of Knole, the childhood home of Vita. Did Vita want this property because it reminded her of Knole?  Would  Sissinghurst  make up for the loss of Knole?  I think so, in my opinion. And then came the gardens……

Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK

The Sissinghurst Garden Map

Chalkboard of Today's Events in the Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent, UK

Chalkboard of Today’s Events in the Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent, UK

 

Chalkboard of Today's Events in the Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent, UK

Chalkboard of Today’s Events in the Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent, UK

What I learned about the Sissinghurst Gardens………

Vita, who became in her own words, “a damned outmoded poet”, turned to writing weekly garden columns for The Observer, which in turn made her garden famous. By 1938, her friends and  gardeners were flocking to see the gardens and what the Nicolson’s were accomplishing. Vita,  began to charge one shilling to see the garden. Today as you enter the gardens you are given a wooden shilling to present to the gatekeeper to keep the tradition alive. First, let’s walk through the White Garden!

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

Entering the White Garden, Sissingurst Gardens, Kent, UK

Entering the White Garden, Sissingurst Gardens, Kent, UK

 

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

After WWII their attention returned to developing the garden and when Head Gardener, Jack Vass, returned from the war in 1948, the idea of a White Garden became a firm plan. Vita’s rose garden was moved from the area of the Tower Lawn and the Priest House to the Rondel Garden. The late rose garden area would now feature a white,  grey and green garden. “ I have what I hope will be a really lovely scheme for it: all white flowers, with clumps of very pale pink. White clematis, white lavender, white agapanthus, white double primroses, white anemones, white lilies”……

Together, Vita and Harold, constructed a garden of connected “rooms” which would become a romantic substitute for Knole. Each room had a different character of color and theme, the walls being clipped hedges or pink brick. Nicholson spent his efforts designing new interconnecting garden walkways between Vita’s exciting flower interior of each room.

The Rose Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

A Room With a View, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Rondel Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

 

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

Vita’s thoughts on planting, “Why have one plant when you can have a hundred!” She loved to plant en masse!

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

The Cottage Garden, Sissinghurst , Kent, UK

 

A Connecting Walkway at Sissinghurst Garden, Kent UK

A Connecting Walkway at Sissinghurst Garden, Kent UK

One of the hedges was being trimmed!  What an upkeep that would be!

The Lime Walk, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Lime Walk, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Orchard, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

The Orchard, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

 

The Herb Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

Walking to the Herb Garden, Sissinghurst, Kent, UK

Jack Vass was a skilled propagator and many of the seeds and cuttings came from all over the garden. Vita would only buy one plant and cuttings would be taken from that and many plants came from friends and other private gardens such as the garden at  Hever Castle. In total the White Garden cost three pounds. Later there was the creation of the Thyme Lawns, and the Moat Walk, as her rose collection continued to grow.  By 1953 there were 194 different roses grown at Sissinghurst. Vita’s take on the garden was to allow the garden to have a certain wildness about it which fitted her romantic and free nature. Her strength was in creating imaginative planting schemes and using color in stunning combinations.

In 1967, The National Trust took over the garden, farm, and buildings. Today the  garden is the epitome  of an English garden and well cared for by eight gardeners and many National Trust volunteers. It is one of the most visited and loved gardens in England. I hope you have enjoyed the Gardens at Sissinghurst!  It was one of my favorite gardens!

11 Responses to “The National Trust: Sissinghurst Gardens, Cranbrook, Kent, UK”

  1. AnnetteM

    This garden is on my wish list to see. I have only seen it on other people’s blogs up to now. That white garden is wonderful, isn’t it. I tried to do a white bit at the bottom of my long border, but it didn’t really get enough sun.

    Reply
    • CadyLuck Leedy

      Oh Annette I would love to have a White Garden! It was truly beautiful! I may have to work on that for next year in my garden. I already have anchoring white camellias.

      Reply
  2. Doug Warren

    Very interesting, and lovely photos (as usual). Loved the variety in White, the diversity of purples in Rondel, the colorful reds & yellows in Cottage, and unique ones in Sissinghurst.

    Reply

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