Sissinghurst. The name says it all. Mystery and romance. The renowned garden of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Home of the world famous white garden, the white Wisteria was just coming into bloom when we visited. (For facts and figures and reliable information, click on the link to the National Trust site for this fascinating place here.)
It was the last day of our mid May garden visit in England before returning home to Tennessee. Fellow innocent abroad Gail and I were being escorted by the vivacious Victoria, of hair clippie fame to this most famous of gardens. The sun was brightly shining. For a change. This is the entrance. (Note the four nineteenth century bronze urns which Vita’s mother had inherited from the Wallace Collection in Paris). Please come along and we will show you what we saw. It was fairly bustling with visitors, so there will sometimes be folks in the photos that we do not know, please excuse our temerity in not getting permission. There is a lot to see, even breaking it into two posts there are many photos. It is hoped you will gobble up, or hoover as the Brits say, the experience, as did we.
Along the inner walls of the Top Courtyard, the first garden seen after coming through the entranceway arch were walkways around the perimeter featuring stone troughs, they call them sinks, on brick pedestals with a calm, quiet lawn in the middle. Tulipa batalini ‘Bronze Charm’ glistened in the clear light. Others were planted with Auriculas and other delicacies, changed throughout the year.
At the feet of one of the series of stone sinks were exuberant wallflowers, Erysimum ‘Chelsea Jacket’. The signage at this garden was outstanding, name tags for most plantings were discreet but visible.
We climbed the winding steps inside the turret. It was a trial, but the people coming down the spiral staircase all said, “It’s worth the effort!” (This photo was taken looking upwards inside the spiral of the carpentry involved.) Onward.
Along the winding stairs, a window with a beatiful view was passed, but the eye catcher was her name in tile on the sill. Hmmm, motor turning inside cerebrum….Fairegarden in cobalt letter tiles cast in hypertufa…. Onward.
The summit was reached, after peering into Vita’s workroom on the first floor above the open passageway that was furnished with her belongings, a glimpse into her private world. Outside, lichen on the shingles attested to the air quality, as did the color of the sky.
Enough bird’s eye view, let’s look at the human view. We begin with the iconic white Wisteria in the White Garden. The method of keeping these aggressive vines in tip top blooming form is pruning to two buds in February as well as severe pruning in summer after flowering of the longest whips.
Inspiration for quince, grown against a wall and hard pruned. We have seedlings of quince and no space for more large shrubs. This may be adopted in some way. Please note the doorway leading from the walled garden.
In plan, Sissinghurst is a conversation between invitation and delight, a constant suggestion of what might be beyond the next hedge or wall, but no revelation of what that was until you reached it. The experience of walking around the garden is in that way a squence of arrivals.
This is a good stopping point for part one. It is the amuse bouche before the meal to come in part two.
Stay tuned for part two of our visit to Sissinghurst Castle coming soon.
The posts from our London excursion can be seen by clicking the links below. (There is a permanent page on the sidebar containing the links to the England posts as well. Click England Trip-Two Innocents Abroad to view it.)