Some Garden Inspiration from Sissinghurst Castle

A quick trip over to England has allowed me to escape the heat for a while and the noise of construction which is ever present at home while we complete an addition project.

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I am not over here very long and I am currently writing this from a very cool (or should I say cold?!) and wet Edinburgh.  I had a chance to visit Sissinghurst Gardens in Kent earlier this week and it was such a wonderful experience to finally see this renowned garden that I have always wanted to visit.  If you are an English garden enthusiast then this garden will need no introduction at all, but if not I will explain briefly that Sissinghurst was the stunning creation of writer and poet Vita Sackville-West and diplomat and writer Harold Nicolson.  It was laid out in the 1930’s and further developed during Vita’s lifetime there.  A romantic garden, built on a medieval site, it is divided up into a series of garden rooms each with a different feel or dominant color.   The influence of Gertrude Jekyll’s painterly style of combining plants and flowers is very evident here and  continues to this day with so many wonderful combinations of plants – in color, texture and form.

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Clematis and Sweet Peas

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Although I recognized many of the plants in this garden, there were some that I did not and as I am not confident of the varieties and cultivars that were on show I hope you will forgive my lack of labeling some of the photographs.

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The garden is entered through the ancient portico at which point you are in the main courtyard.  I loved the Head Gardener’s notes here and the little vases showing what was predominant in the garden at the time. (I actually just noticed that their sign was for July…It obviously hadn’t been updated for August!!)

The main courtyard contains the famous purple border but this whole garden room was dominated by purple tones and complimentary colors.

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I believe this is Dahlia Requiem

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My favorite combination of all with the frothy Daucus Carota “Dara”.  I was able to put this photo on Instagram and have it identified immediately!

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Such magnificent colors!

Another series taken showing the lovely colors and textures evident here…

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Sadly I’ve never had any luck with alliums which is annoying because the seed heads alone are just amazing.

 

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Another view of the long purple border with some beautiful Agapanthus.  The mix of colors in this border is really imaginative but it all seems to work…

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The ancient brick walls are the perfect background for a variety of climbers

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The most enjoyable aspect of this garden for me was physically stepping through the ancient doorways and discovering another room beyond.  I was so excited to suddenly find myself in the famous White Garden that I realized that I hadn’t taken many long shots of the garden.  I was also a bit distracted because some poor person tripped over and fell into one of the borders!  They were quite ok and I don’t think any plants were damaged! Luckily they had a good sense of humor about it!

A few of the plant combinations in the White Garden follow…

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Aren’t these silvers and whites just incredible?

 

You can climb to the top of the tower, which dates from Elizabethan times, and admire the views from above which are just spectacular – of the garden itself and of the Kentish countryside.

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Traditional Oast house used for drying hops before they were sent to the brewers

 

We were incredibly lucky that it was fairly quiet when we visited.  I think perhaps I had not visited before because I was always worried that the picture I had in my head of this peaceful and very romantic garden just would not be the same with hoards of people.  We were there right as it opened which probably helped.  I have also read that visiting later in the day is also a good time.

I always love to see that a garden is doing its upmost to protect the environment and encourage wildlife.  The sound of bees was everywhere and they were definitely given priority!

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I saw this lovely meadow area before I went in through the main entrance and took a few photos as we were leaving.  Reading some of the information at the garden I learned sadly that 97% of wild flower meadows have disappeared from the British countryside since WWII which is staggering.  The garden is obviously doing its bit to restore these historic meadows.

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Even a small area like this has a huge visual impact.  I hope you enjoyed a walk around this lovely garden with its beautiful plant combinations.  I was really inspired by it.  I also hope that if you have never visited before that you get the chance to one day as it really is very special.  Back to the Florida heat now!

-Kate xx

 


34 thoughts on “Some Garden Inspiration from Sissinghurst Castle

  1. Beautiful! I visited Sissinghurst about thirty years ago and have meant to go back again ever since. My nearly one-year-old daughter and I were taken by my parents-in-law shortly after my first marriage failed so I was fairly distracted too! We had to take it in turns to tour the house and tower because someone had to stay with the baby outside! Your photos are lovely and have made me so eager to go there again! It is shocking how few wild-flower meadows are left here. The herbicides the farmers use have done a lot of harm and then many of the meadows have been built on too.
    Thanks so much for this post Kate! Enjoy your time in damp and cold Edinburgh and have a good journey home. Hope the building work ends soon!
    Clare x

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    1. Hello Clare! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and I hope you get a chance to visit the garden again. I have read quite a bit about Vita in the last year so I think it made the visit more interesting, knowing more about her. Fascinating reading about her life. It was lovely to be chilly for a while – back to heat and humidity and the ever present noise of hammering and banging!! Another month and we will be done..hooray!

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      1. I’m glad you don’t have much more building work to put up with. I find Vita’s life really fascinating and I’ve also read a few of her books. A couple of gardening books (collections of articles printed in The Observer) and some of her novels. She also figured large in the lives of many women contemporaries too.

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  2. You take such beautiful pictures, Kate! What a great place– hopefully someday I will get to visit! I love English gardens and meadows. So glad you had a break from the heat to visit a stunning garden!

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    1. Aww that is so sweet of you! I was actually a little worried about these photos as I had a hard time reading the light there…it was sort of cloudy but bright. I realized however that English light is just so lovely for garden photos. It is so soft unlike the harsh Florida sun which seems to wash everything out. I hope you get a chance one day to visit gardens in England…lots of inspiration for your climate!

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  3. A beautiful post, Kate! I enjoyed the tour of these lovely gardens. That the British have lost 97% of its wildflowers since WWII is disturbing. Glad these gardens are doing their part to keep the wildflowers going.

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    1. Hello Lavinia and thank you so much! I found that number staggering myself. Can you imagine just how beautiful it must have been with all those lovely meadows? Xxx

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  4. Hi Kate! I enjoyed it all! So glad that you’ve been able to escape Florida’s heat and humidity for a spell. I’m patiently waiting for fall, hoping to regain my desire to be outside. _Janice

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    1. Hello lovely Janice! I’m glad you enjoyed the photo tour – I really loved this garden. I’m back in Florida now and feel as if I have walked back into a sauna! My garden has turned into a jungle!! I need to spend several hours a day getting it all straight again but it’s just too hot!! Xxx

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  5. Hello Cynthia! I’m so glad you liked the photo tour of this beautiful garden. I was so inspired by it and I loved the sense of history there. A very special place. Xxx

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    1. Glad you liked it! So exciting that you got to visit Bath though as it is such a beautiful city…will look forward to reading about it. You have a friend in the perfect place…sounds like you will have to visit again soon 😉
      -Kate x

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    1. I will just have to enjoy them in photos I think. I think the reason for the disappearance of meadows was due to intensive farming paractices and then pesticides. They are so much more aware over these these days about prior damage that I sense a stronger will to set it right than over here. Hopefully we can catch up especially with the rate that honeybees are declining. :-((. I always find people’s attitudes to climbing plants on houses interesting. Over there a house would be considered undressed without something growing on it…but then I guess they haven’t had to deal with kudzu and non native wisteria!! House eaters! Lol!

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  6. Beautiful, Beautiful – just absolutely gorgeous!!! I love a garden with rooms…I would love to have such a lovely white garden under the moonlight. It is a wonderful post and thank you Kate so much for sharing your photos of this perfect garden.

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    1. Hello Lynn! So glad you enjoyed it! I like garden rooms too…there is something about wandering around and stepping through into a completely different space that I find so magical. Doesn’t a white garden sound so lovely? It would probably work well in Florida too but then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it at night as I would be plagued by mosquitoes!! Lol!
      – Kate x

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  7. such beautiful images, Kate! It really is an inspiring place and I am pleased you managed to visit and at a quiet time too. I am also fascinated by the gardener’s notes!

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    1. Hello Ann! Thank you so much! I had a lovely time over on your side of the pond, although it was a very quick visit. I was so happy I picked the perfect day to visit this special garden. I’m sure it would have been lovely either way but it gave you such a sense of peacefulness with fewer people. I loved those gardeners notes too and those sweet little vases!
      – Kate x

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  8. This is a garden I have long dreamed of seeing. Thank you for sharing your visit! It really is quite stunning, and your photos are as lovely as the ones I have seen in books about the garden. I hope your visit has been wondrously enjoyable!

    By the way, I love alliums, but they won’t grow for me either. I think the climate must be too hot.

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    1. Hello Deb! Oh goodness that is so sweet of you to say that about my photos…Thank you! It was my goal this year to try to get a little better. It gets way too technical for me sometimes but in all honesty these turned out well because the light is just so soft and pretty there..it’s hard to go wrong. I realize just how bright it is with us and all the colors get so washed out. It is a shame about the alliums. I think you are right they just don’t like the south. Enjoy your lovely garden…I am desperate for it to cool down a little here!
      – Kate x

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  9. Thanks so much for the tour of this famous garden, Kate! Sissinghurst is one of the many gardens I would love to visit when I finally make a trip to England. I think my husband and I will have to live there for a whole summer to be able to see even just a fraction of the gardens that i want to visit. I’m so glad you were able to visit when it was not crowded — that’s something I worry about too. Thanks again, and Best Regards, -Beth

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    1. Hello Beth! I knew you would like some photos of Sissinghurst! I really hope you will be able to make it over there some day and you are right you could literally plan a whole vacation around garden visits as there are just so many. I will be back in UK in September as it is my Mums 90th birthday so I hope if I have a spare day I can fit in another garden inspiration visit. My husband is very tolerant!! Lol! Hope things are well with you and you are getting a hint of cooler weather. Still scorching here..can’t wait for even a few degrees cooler.
      – Kate x

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  10. Hello there Kate, every photo a gem. Would love to visit, but would probably be in Florida quicker than Sissinghurst! So tricky taking photos at the mo, grey skies have been far too dominant, I have to ram the brightness up on every shot. Love the white garden, that’s my dream. One day…. didn’t know you were having building work done, must be pretty big project if it’s taking so long! Will be finished just in time for Christmas!!

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    1. Very sweet of you…Thank you! Yes an addition to master bedroom. I hope it’s finished by Christmas!! I am trying to plant my cutting garden in the middle of cement mixers, wood planks and interesting onlookers 🙄

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  11. Thank you for the delightful tour! Everything was beautiful, but the wildflower meadows were my favorite part. The flowers look so soft and delicate, and the combination of colors is just too pretty!

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