My mind is brimming with ideas this morning, laying down snapshots and processing happy memories of a glorious, flower-filled garden visit.
We first visited Sissinghurst in the early 2000s before our daughter was born. With two energetic toddlers in tow, we were more focused on keeping them on the paths and not straying too far from the toilets than admiring the glorious gardens and surroundings. I had clocked that it was a place of beauty, though, and we have some very lovely photos of the boys in the meadow. Despite now living only an hour’s drive away, it wasn’t until yesterday that we finally made the time to go there again, this time without any children – none of them could be persuaded to tear themselves away from their computing devices (oh yes, revision). ‘It’s ok, mum, you go on your own. We’ll be fine…’ ‘Well, ok then. If you’re sure.’ And we hotfooted it out of the door. How times change.
Anyway, back to Sissinghurst Castle Garden. The place has a fascinating history: it was used as a prison for 3000 French soldiers captured during the Seven Years War (1756–63); it was a poor-house in the late 1700s; and it was a fine example of Victorian farming during the mid-1800s when it was owned by the Cornwallis family. Poet and writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson bought it in the early 1930s and set about transforming the buildings and grounds, creating the famous garden rooms that draw people from across the globe today. The National Trust took over managing the site in the 1960s, although members of the Sackville-West/Nicholson family still occasionally stay in the South Cottage. History lesson over (if you’d like to know more, start here), let’s move on.
The gardens are what we went to see, although you can also wander into a few rooms (the library, etc) and have a tour of South Cottage if you’re organised enough to get a timed ticket when you arrive (we weren’t). We did climb up to the top of the tower where I took these photos from each corner:
The red brick buildings and garden walls provide the perfect backdrop to the swoon-inducing planting. Really, the planting is delicious. Roses, such gloriously scented roses – climbers trained perfectly against walls, bush roses left to grow huge, climbers growing up inside frames and over hoops, low-growing roses; the air was thick with their heady, intoxicating smell. And the irises and salvias, and magnificent euphorbias of all kinds, all at their peak. The grounds were full of wildflowers – oxeye daisies, tall buttercups, huge clovers, mixed grasses, all nodding and swaying in the breeze. The place is magical.
Right, enough of that; must get on. Back to earth. Bye for now.