Two recent cold weather reading bouts brought me back to the hours spent at Sissinghurst at the end of June. There is always the risk that an iconic garden can be overwhelming, disappointing or even just too hard to take in because it is so heavily visited. There was an element of the first two possibilities in my experience, but, actually, I was not disappointed. I realise now, looking back, that I didn’t get to grips with Harold Nicholson’s clever and thoughtful structural elements, and that I wandered, in a rather delirious fashion, round the garden without much order or thought. So, remembering what was where required a lot of post-visit referencing of the garden map and descriptions.
So, is there a problem with garden delirium? Actually, I don’t think so. I do have in my mind the sense of joyful chaos, of generous planting, the excitement of meeting plants that I didn’t know, and then had to try and identify later. I did really love the hovering sense of Vita in her garden, even down to the slightly artful arrangements of tools and equipment that had been placed so well to give the sense of a working garden. So, probably that feeling of the love and absorption that Vita gave the garden and the place is one of the most important things to take away.
But back to the reading episodes- one, a book, the other, an article. I had seen in the NT bookshop, the book written and compiled by Sarah Raven about Vita and her garden. I confess to later buying it in pristine condition and half the price from Abebooks. I really enjoyed it. No silly worshipping here, good, honest information and a really solid compilation of Vita’s writings about her gardening habits and practices- and an abundant sense of the garden as it is now, a mixture of history, Vita and those modern gardeners who have championed the garden since her death. I really recommend this book.
And then secondly and by pure chance, as I always check the Tory press, so important to know what the opposition is doing I reckon- a really good and interesting article 2 days ago, sadly in the luxury section of the Telegraph online.
When I look at my photographs, only a few managed to reach into the garden. This is a visitor-numbers issue. It was almost impossible to draw breath or take a photograph in the White Garden for example- not that people were jostling, just the amount of movement around you made it really hard to concentrate at all. I only have hazy memories of the White Garden. So, I took the photographs that I could rather than the ones I wanted. Ah well.
There were some truly gorgeous plants as you would expect. I have talked about the roses and some of the plants in two earlier posts, here and here, but here are some photos and links for some of the plants I have managed to identify. Happy hunting.