• Georgie C

Dream Gardens: Sissinghurst

Updated: May 5, 2019

For the first of a new blog series titled Dream Gardens, I've chosen Sissinghurst. Because what could more romantic than a garden created by a poet?

Imagine living here! Sissinghurst Castle standing tall over the gardens

Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, was once home to writer, poet & garden designer Vita Sackville-West & her diplomat husband Harold Nicolson, who between them landscaped & created the most enchanting world for themselves and their family.

As well as the famous White Garden, Sissinghurst is home to a Herb Garden, a Rose Garden, A Nuttery, Moat Walk and "The Delos" named after the Greek Island, among many other imaginative and wonderful "rooms." Each room is shaped and linked by tall clipped hedging or pink walls, allowing visitors to roam from one to another, creating a magical Alice in Wonderland type experience.

A great place to get lost

View from Sissinghurst Castle Tower

When viewed from the top of Sissinghurst's tower, the artistry and thought behind the garden can really be seen and enjoyed. The clean lines, dramatic shapes and topiary avenues almost make the garden appear as if an architect designed it (it was in fact Harold who shaped it), yet the intense blocks of colours and hues are definitely the work of a poet with a strong sense of romance. Indeed, upon reading some of Vita's poetry, there's no doubt that Sissinghurst is one of her creation's. The quote below reveals more about the collaboration.

Hot colours in the South Cottage Garden

A Work of Art

It being August when I visited, the entire garden was buzzing with bees and pollinators and an incredible variety of flowers and foliage. I distinctly remember a bright yellow meadow planting of Coreopsis just outside the castle and the fantastic (and relatively new) Vegetable Garden filled with towering Sunflowers and vining Squash all framed by the rolling hills of the Sussex and Kent country-side.

Vita wrote often and beautifully about Sissinghurst and plants and gardens, often comparing nature to love and relationships. I've included some of my favourite quotes of hers in-between the photos.

Arthichoke heads
"The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows."
Back-lit Crocosmia

Crocosmia detail

In the White Garden
"Flowers really do intoxicate me."
Pretty Borage
'I like muddling things up; and if a herb looks nice in a border, then why not grow it there? Why not grow anything anywhere so long as it looks right where it is? That is, surely, the art of gardening.''
A bee & Cosmos in the White Garden
"Forget not bees in winter, though they sleep."
Yellow Coreopsis
"But you, oh gardener, poet that you be / Though unaware, now use your seeds like words / And make them lilt with color nicely flung."

Asparagus Foliage
"Successful gardening is not necessarily a question of wealth, it is a question of love, taste, and knowledge."
Alice in Wonderland style

Coreopsis Meadow Planting

Sissinghurst is a truly extraordinary place! Fantastic for plant & poetry lovers and garden photographers alike :) I'm really looking forward to visiting at different times of the year now that I live much nearer. Do let me know if you've visited and what your highlights were and in the meantime, check out this excellent blog by the Sissinghurst Gardeners who maintain the work of art. Next Dream Garden to be revealed soon!


Contact me : georgie@gingko.photography for further info, prints & commissions.

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