When in Kent, one has to go and see at least one of the gardens, for which the region is famous. The name Sissinghurst castle garden alone made me dream of something special. Sissi was an Austrian Empress, a little bit like the Princess Diana of her time. Including the tragic ending. But Sissinghurst castle garden has nothing to do with princesses, neither from Austria nor from England.
To get there we drove through lots of back roads to finally arrive at Sissinghurst. No palace here nor castle, but rather a magical garden. Part of Sissinghurst was a pigsty in its first life, other parts a prison, ending up to become a home for a family. Eventually it was transformed into this enchanted castle and garden by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. Vita Sackville is probably best known for her affair with Virginia Woolf.
We took the introduction tour and our guide had a real gift for telling stories about the past of Sissinghurst castle. From her we learned about the pigsty and the Sackville-West family. The castle itself was not really remarkable, there was not much to see inside. I liked the little pavilion on the castle grounds, which was used by a family member as his writing nook.
But it’s not the buildings on which to focus here. Already at the entrance you see that it’s the flowers and greenery which are the main attraction at Sissinghurst Castle.
First up we walked up the tower to get an overview of this huge garden area. There is of course more than one garden, but rather a plethora of gardens. From vegetables, to fruits, to flowers, to stone gardens, and so on. Since I am not a landscaper I can’t really say what we have seen. But from above there were clear differences between each part of the garden.
The tower was the focus point of the garden, no matter where you were standing. It was always in plain view.
As you can see the lawns looked really dry, not at all like the luscious green one is used to from England. At the time the country was going through a heat wave and the soil was parched. The trees and bushes were still lush, but the fields looked different.
At least some of the flowers were still blooming, although we had been warned that due to the lack of water and the heat most of them were wilting. But they definitely deserves their own post. Yours, Pollybert