I recently finished a tour of seven of the great gardens of Sussex and Kent and would like to share pictures of this glorious experience. We saw two gardens each day, thus the pairing of the two in this thread.
Sissinghurst looks perfect, as I’m sure it always does.
bixa, this report of yours will be a dream for me. Not just because you’re at one of my favorite gardens in England, but because your photos are so much better than mine.
Last month in France I said to my husband, as I hopelessly snapped another photo with my phone, I wish somebody from anyport would visit here because then there’d be some decent photos to look at after the trip.
And now, my wish is fulfilled. (I’ll be sending you a list of stops to make in England and France, with detailed instructions on where to stand to take the photos that will improve on mine.)
Getting the popcorn and moving from the phone to the big screen. Your photos looks fabulous on the big screen (computeer monitor), so inundate away. There cannot be too many photos from English gardens.
Breeze, thank you! and ..... oh, pshaw! You take wonderful pictures & tell a great story to go along with them.
Thanks so much for the generous encouragement. Full disclosure: I am writing this from Paris, having left London on the first of July. I have tons of backlogged photos to deal with. Sissinghurst & Great Dixter were the penultimate day of the garden tour, but somehow wound up being the first to get a thread. I'm posting this in between Paris sight-seeing, so here are just a few more for the time being ~
Scrumptious colors. Don't you love to see a well-planted border in full bloom?
I remember reading that V. Sackville-West would pick a flower and go around her garden putting it next to other plants in bloom at the same time, to find harmonious companions. I try not to be bitter about the difference between her garden and mine in plant-matching opportunities.
Don't tell me you're going to put experiencing your time in Paris ahead of posting your garden photos! Oh well, if you must, you must.
Breeze, yes! And even though I knew that Vita's style was "English cottage garden", the friendly informality of the borders still surprised me. Nifty info about her using the swatch method of matching. I've tried to include some of the unexpected color companions as well as some interesting and unusual choices of plants. As far as posting, I have to sit down sometime.
Bjd, if you ever have a chance to visit the place, absolutely go. It's a wonderful experience. I've read the book of Vita's collected garden columns and one thing that always endeared her to me was the fact that she didn't let on to her readers that she had a whole castle tower and grounds to play with. In the columns, she uses what she figured out and learned from this garden to talk about scaled-down ways to get some of her effects.
Mossie, yes -- I appreciate seeing that kind of transitional period showing what goes into the grand effect later.
Kerouac, I know what you mean about the architecture. What is so great about Sissinghurst is that the plantings and the structures are meant to complement each other and succeed so well at their jobs.
Let's go up in the tower and get a good look at the garden's layout ~
On the way up to the top, you can look into the rooms -- there is a wonderful library/study and all of them are lovely in their round white simplicty. One room has a speaker with Vita reading her poems and the one with the typewriter has her radio broadcasts ~
Marvellous! Were the fields still yellow from rapeseed? Did you visit Finchcocks in Goudhurst? No so much for the garden but the house is nice and especially the collection of historical keyboard instruments is overwhelming. As are the owners!
mossie, I agree with you! Bixa, I hope you get to return many times.
bjd, that white flower looks like Nigella. We can only get a mix of seed here, called Persian Jewels. I love the blue and rose colors, and those self-sowed for many years around our garden.
The overhead photos help me understand the layout, which from the ground is confusing. So many garden rooms, so many gateways. Amazing to see how all the views from the tower are of open country. I wonder if the surrounding lands are protected somehow?
bjd, there's a TV series (which we can't get here) about the current generation of Nicolsons which would probably answer some questions you and I might have about how they manage the garden. In bixa's photos I saw a pot of lilies, so maybe they have some potted plant understudies in a greenhouse that they can pop in wherever a star is ailing.
Ha ha, Kerouac ~ I doubt there are savage gardeners at Sissinghurst. I imagine any rogue colorful plants would be tenderly transferred to somewhere they'd look better.
Isn't it, Bjd?! You would love it. I'm guessing those gardens have semi-naturalized by now to the point that they stay full and coordinated without much help. Those flowers do in fact seem to be Nigella, as Breeze said. As far as I can tell from looking them up, they may be called Nigella 'album', although that doesn't sound quite right to me. There is a white Nigella called N. 'Gertrude Jekyll', although I'm not sure if it's the one with black stamens or not.
Thank you, Amboseli! I only saw one patch of rapeseed in our travels. I did see gorgeous English countryside unrolling out the windows and our guide told us about the geologic properties of the areas through which we traveled. I didn't see Finchcocks. The gardens on the tour were (in order): Great Comp and Lullingstone; Wakehurst and Nymans; Sissinghurst and Great Dixter; and Hevers. On my own I also visited Hampton Court and Kew gardens, plus Kensington and Holland parks.
Thank you, Breeze -- I MUST return! Yes, I needed that aerial view to finally understand the plan, even though I've seen so many pictures of the place over the years. If you open the wikipedia link in the OP and jump to National Trust (#2), it tells about how the area is protected. Do you remember the name of that tv program with the Nicolsons? I'd love to see it.
I have pictures to complete the visit to Sissinghurst and then go on to Great Dixter, but Flickr is acting up so I won't be posting them tonight .......... but I will post them!
Sissinghurst to me was just a subject in $200 coffeetable books. I can see the logic of those books. In terms of the plants, as I live in a very similar climate these are mostly very familiar to me, having seen them in local nurseries, gardens and even my own yard. The photos are as lovely as the subject this is my very favorite type of garden, but as it shows what glittering heights can be attained in this climate, it also shows how short we fall of reaching that.
The kiln houses for drying hops are outstanding--the turrets/vents topping them are wonderful and the compositions of the beds are stunning and obviously deeply thought out.
Thanks so much, Fumobici. I know exactly why this is your favorite style as it's mine, too -- all the abundance possible with form but no rigidity. I think you would very much enjoy reading Vita Sackville West's garden writing, as it was aimed at regular people who loved gardening but lacked castles, acreage, and staff. Her collected garden columns are wonderful, inspiring reading and may well be available in your local library ~ www.goodreads.com/book/show/1554523.In_Your_Garden Aren't the oast houses wonderful?! I failed to get any usable pictures, but the many oast houses certainly add to the already lovely Kent countryside.
We've left the white garden, but segue through more pale beauty before a look at a warm color spectrum area ~
Back where we started and on the way out. This was a life-long dream perfectly fulfilled, although I didn't see every single thing and will simply have to return one day.
I hope you all will return to this thread, as the next half will be pictures from Great Dixter, another garden writer and theorist's garden.
Great Dixter is a house in Northiam, East Sussex, England. It was built in 1910–12 by architect Edwin Lutyens, who combined an existing mid-15th century house on the site with a similar structure brought from Benenden, Kent, together with his own additions... The garden [is] widely known for its continuous tradition of sophisticated plantsmanship ...
The original Northiam house, known as Dixter, dating from the mid-15th century, was acquired by a businessman named Nathaniel Lloyd in 1909. He had a 16th-century house in a similar style moved from Kent and the two were combined with new work by Lutyens to create a much larger house, which was rechristened Great Dixter. It is a romantic recreation of a medieval manor house, complete with great hall, parlour, solar and yeoman's hall.
Lloyd and Lutyens began the garden at Great Dixter, but it was Lloyd's son Christopher Lloyd, a well known garden writer and television personality, who made it famous. The garden is in the arts and crafts style, and features topiary, a long border, an orchard and a wild flower meadow. The planting is profuse, yet structured, and has featured many bold experiments of form, colour and combination. The garden is currently managed by Fergus Garrett, who worked closely with Lloyd up until his death in 2006 as Head Gardener and introduced a number of innovations into the planting scheme. In the grounds of Great Dixter are three 18th-century oast houses, under a common roof, and a 15th-century barn.source
In the picture with the alley of small trees, I notice they don't have leaves. A question of strong pruning, or some kind of late growing trees?
Thanks for this walk through Sissinghurst, Bixa.
Bjd, some of the gardens I visited were being revamped to correct such things as yew hedges which had gotten so wide that they were obstructing walkways, etc. Those trees are the Lime Walk, a pleached arbor. Since they were almost leafless in late June, I'm assuming that some serious renovation was being done on them. This article might interest you: www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardens-to-visit/A-garden-makeover-at-Sissinghurst/ And you are very welcome!
Thank you, Htmb.
Breeze, I would say that those on the tour with me were the most eager to see Great Dixter, not surprising as he is still such a big influence. www.theguardian.com/media/2006/jan/30/pressandpublishing.booksobituaries. After we visited the garden, everyone was mostly enthusiastic, although some of us admitted that parts of the garden were downright overgrown and even messy. One knowledgeable person said that was Lloyd's philosophy, to let plants have their way. But did he mean have their way forever, or to let them get completely out of control? I don't know if Great Dixter had the most gardeners working of the gardens we visited, but it certainly had the most visible ones. Whatever -- in many ways it can be considered a more modern garden than Sissinghurst.