Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens
This world-famous garden, created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, needs little introduction. Vita wrote, “The heavy golden sunshine enriched the old brick with a kind of patina, and made the tower cast a long shadow across the grass, like the finger of a gigantic sundial veering slowly with the sun. Everything was hushed and drowsy and silent but for the coo of the white pigeons”.
For those who are visiting the garden for the first time it will be a journey of discovery, as each part of the garden reveals itself. For those who have been to see it many times, look out for the rose growing against the wall of the South Cottage. It is called Mme Alfred Carriere, and was the first thing that Vita and Harold planted together, on the day their offer to buy was accepted. In April 1930, Harold recorded in his diary the moment he and Vita decided to buy Sissinghurst – “We came suddenly upon the Nut Walk, and that settled it.” Today, the Kentish cob nut trees create a shady haven for birds and visitors alike.
When the White Garden was created, it was Harold who chose the white gladioli, white irises, white pompom dahlias and white Japanese anemones, as well as the famous white roses. The gazebo in the orchard was built in memory of Harold in 1969.
So many of their treasured items, displayed for visitors to admire, capture the essence of the two people who created such a beautiful garden together. Lunches in the restaurant include vegetables grown on site. Hot and cold drinks, and cakes are served all day.
Great Dixter House and Gardens
Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd. The first glimpse of the house reveals a large expanse of tiled roof and a timber porch, which suggests great age, but in fact it is two older houses with a Lutyens designed addition to the left of the porch. Visitors are able to see the Great Hall, the Solar and the Parlour. Most of the garden structure was also designed by Lutyens. Christopher Lloyd grew to love gardening, watching and helping his mother, Daisy, who introduced him to Gertrude Jekyll. He developed a style of planting which, to a large extent, tended to break many of the previously accepted rules. He took great delight in mixing plants of all kinds together, putting flowers of clashing colours next to each other, which in his hands
somehow “worked”. He got a reputation for trying other challenging combinations, creating
amazing structural statements, and beautiful contrasting foliage arrangements. In all this, he was very ably assisted by a young man, Fergus Garrett. Today, Fergus is Head Gardener, still planting the garden after Christopher Lloyd’s style, using new combinations, but essentially still ‘pushing the boundaries’ as they once did together. The spirit of originality lives on.
Refreshments are on sale in the open-sided loggia, and include baguettes, quiches, teas, coffee and cakes.
Estimated cost: £29.50.