Flowers24hours visits Sissinghurst Castle

One of our florists got the opportunity to visit Sissingurst Castle during the month of July.  A warm sunny day, the gardens were enriched with hundreds of flowers in a variety of colours.

There are a beautiful mixture of plants in Sissinghurst castle gardens, A few which we spotted included purple lupin flowers, red aliums, purple salvia plants, pretty lilac clematis, white scabiosa, pink pansies, yellow achillea and alstroemeria. Our florist talks about his walk around the grounds..

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Timing, they say, is everything.  I can believe that when it comes to visiting popular attractions.  I managed to visit one, Sissinghurst Castle, just before the schools broke up for summer.  It was busy but not too busy.  That gave me the time to appreciate what this, not so little gem, in its summer glory.  Located not too far from London Sissinghurst Castle can just about be reached on a day trip even without a car with a little preparation.

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It is really little more than by chance that we have this treasure available to us today.  When It was bought by Vita Sackvile-West and Harold Nicholson in 1930 this centuries old site was not only nearly derelict but vulnerable to redevelopment.  Fortunately it was saved just in time and we are blessed with the magnificent gardens which were created in the 1930s. It was Harold Nicholson who designed the layout and Vita Sackville-West decided on the planting.

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Despite the ancient origins of Sissinghurst the 1930s gardens are very much derived from the best influences of the early 20th century, particularly those of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens.  The castle itself provides an interesting accompaniment to the gardens and is well worth visiting but my main interest is in the gardens themselves.

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The garden “rooms” are based on the outline of the old hunting lodge, with the “wall” sometimes being hedges and others really are walls.  At the time I visited, even with our very late spring, the Rose Garden was full of colour and scent.  The White Garden, although magnificent in its own way, was not my favourite. White on green can be quite striking but the lack of other colours does seem a bit of a lost opportunity.  Still, with so many other rooms with their variety this may seem as if I am splitting hairs.

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As one would expect the names of these “room” give a clue as to what it specialises in, the Cottage Garden containing plants more associated with humble rural abodes, the Herb Garden emphasising scent as much as appearance, the Nuttery providing a pleasnt walk as well as nuts, the Lime Walk providing a grander avenue of trees.  The Delos garden is misleading in that rather than having Mediterranean plants it has those which welcome the damp and the shade.  The Moat Walk has a very archtectural setting for its large number of plants.  An interesting footnote is that in 1946 Vita Sackville-West won a competition for her poem The Garden and the £100 prize was spent on the original yellow azalia lilies which now adorn one bank of the walk.

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The Orchard is not like a commercial farm but more like barely tended garden.  I was too late for the spring blossom and too early for the fruit to have any colour (other than green).  You just cannot win them all!  The roses planted around the old apple trees do provide some extra interest for the garden lover though.  The purple border is also a bit misleading as the colours of the flowers are quite a spread, from pink to blue, but they all do blend with the purple which is in there somewhere!

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As I have mentioned earlier most of these gardens are enclosed by walls or hedges.  There are advantages and drawbacks to each option.  Walls can provide protection from the wind and raise the temperature of the garden but can also create turbulance which can come crashing down on your precious plants.  Hedges allow some of the wind to come through so turbulance is avoided but a living plant has greedy roots so can create too much competition for your other plants.  One of the advantages of a place as large as Sissinghurst is that these restrictions barely matter, if you want to adopt some of the ideas in these delightful surroundings in your own garden do take care and make sure that they really can be scaled down and still work effectively.

 

Flowers24hours visits Sissinghurst Castle was last modified: August 30th, 2013 by Sarah

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