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Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst Castle

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) and Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, Registered Grade I.

Vita Sackville-West was both a writer - poet, novelist, and biographer - and a gardener. She had a regular gardening column in The Observer. Her garden at Sissinghurst is one of the most admired and influential English gardens of the 20th century and in 1955 she was awarded the gold Veitch medal of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Created on a medieval moated site around surviving brick buildings and park of the 16th century, Sissinghurst garden was a collaboration between Vita and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson. Harold is credited with designing the formal structure of the garden's separate enclosures, or 'succession of intimacies' as he described them, and Vita with the exuberant planting. The enclosures, often linked by vistas, include a Rose Garden, Cottage Garden, Herb Garden and the White Garden. Sissinghurst was a showcase for small gardens as each separate garden enclosure was on a small scale and so appealing to amateur gardeners.

The White Garden is cruciform in plan and is divided into geometric compartments by a pattern of low box hedges and flagged or brick paths. The compartments are abundantly planted with flowers and foliage of predominantly grey, white or silver and include lilies, roses, white tulips, foxgloves, dahlias and Solomon's Seal.

Clipped yew hedges enclose the small rectangular Herb Garden laid out by Vita in 1938, with square beds separated by narrow paths. Sages, thyme, hyssop, fennel and a camomile seat all feature. In the Cottage Garden a path of paving stones and bricks leads to the central feature, a large planted copper guarded by four Irish yews. The abundant planting around the paths is concentrated on the warm shades of red, yellow, and orange.

The garden is now owned by the National Trust.

Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West (source Wikimedia Commons)