Sissinghurst revisited.

I try to visit the wonderful garden at Sissinghurst twice a year. It seems to be a favourite garden of quite a few other garden bloggers too.

I love it in Spring but course June is everybody’s favourite time here when the Rose Garden and the White garden are looking particularly magical. Jenny at Duverdiary visited Sissinghurst recently too, do pop over and look at her wonderful photos.

Vita’s white garden has probably been imitated more than any other garden ever. You see white gardens everywhere, but nowhere is it carried off with such flair and panache as at Sissinghurst. The trouble is trying to photograph it as it is always so full of people. Jenny managed to get quite a few shots without hordes of people but I only managed one.
The centre of the garden draws the eye with the wonderful gothic arbour covered with Rosa mulliganii. This was designed by Nigel Nicholson. Apparently in Vita and Harold’s time there were almond trees here. In the centre is a huge Chinese bowl bought by Harold in Egypt.
Silver looks wonderful with white and the weeping pear: Pyrus salicifolia is dreamy with the statue of the virgin sheltering under the long branches.
I love the large clump of white Dictamnus albus  which I believe exudes a gas that you can set fire to. I can never get the thing to thrive although I love it and have tried it several times. The last thing I would do is set fire to it.
A shrub that I have never seen before is Deutzia multiradiata. I am not a great fan of Deutzias but this is lovely and has such daintyflowers.
A little gem that I shall be looking out for is Dianthus ‘Charles Musgrave’. I love the green centres to the flowers.
The shady arbour draped in wisteria and vines was a favourite outside dining spot for Vita and Harold. They called it The Erechtheum after the temple to Athene on the Acropolis. On a hot day there is great competition for a seat here.
The above photo is the view from a seat in the Erechtheum which I managed to bag after a bit of lurking. The Eremurus are over but Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ is still looking good with its pure white flowers and its glossy leaves. Apparently Vita annd Harold used to call this rose ‘Mrs Alfonso’s Career’.

A complete contrast to the White Garden is found in the sunset shades of the Cottage Garden.
Troy Smith who is now the head gardener of Sissinghurst says he is unhappy with the Irish yews because he feels they have become too big.
This beautiful copper was found by Vita in one of the barns that had been used as a laundry. It makes a wonderful focal point for the centre of the garden.
I love the colour combination of Aquilegia formosa. I’m not sure about the verbascums though. I am not fond of their big felty leaves which get attacked by the caterpillars of the Mullein moth.
But I think the lime green Euphorbia cornigera looks good with it. Back left there is Euphorbia griffithii with its orange bracts.

People kept asking me what this pretty, little flower is. It is a bulb: Calachortus ‘Golden Orb’.
The red Alstroemeria made quite an impact.
I love the cottage garden, it looks good in spring and in summer it just gets better and better, until in late summer it really comes into its own.
My favourite part of the garden in June is the rose garden which was looking and smelling quite magical when I was there. But this will have to wait for the next post.

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56 Responses to Sissinghurst revisited.

  1. Pauline says:

    It is always so good to visit Sissinghurst, there is so much inspiration that can be used in our own gardens. My Rosa mulliganii is flowering too, it is early this year, mine is up the dead oak in the garden, not as neat as theirs!

  2. An interesting and beautiful post. Thank you!

  3. rusty duck says:

    Glorious, it’s ages since I’ve been to Sissinghurst, but I do love the White Garden.

  4. mrsdaffodil says:

    Beautiful photos. I absolutely must visit Sissinghurst one of these days, and many other gardens in England and France, as well. It would be impossible to do this in the summer, though: I must look after my own garden!

  5. sueturner31 says:

    Absolutely love Sissinghurst….the history ….the romance….they all add to the strong feeling of Vita’s presence in the garden…and I would love to be able to visit when there is nobody else there…..but I can dream….Lovely post,thanks for sharing.

  6. Kris P says:

    One of the gardens I hope to visit – someday. Thanks for sharing your visit, Chloris.

  7. Robbie says:

    I love the gardens! I love the carefree feel to these gardens, and flowers just floating in and around each other…stunning:-) lovely pictures and what a joy to visit through your photos:-) thank you!

    • Chloris says:

      Robbie, I wish I could take great photos like yours, I am thinking of getting myself a decent camera and having some lessons.
      The gardens are stunning.

      • Robbie says:

        I thought your photos were well done:-) I did get a Rebel EOS Canon a few years ago. They are around 400-500 and come with another lens.I am glad I did get it, but I am still leaning! I used the auto setting the first year while I learned. It had so many buttons that had dual purpose-yikes, that was a learning curve. I shoot more in manuel now which I have noticed is helping a bit more with quality and clarity. I have shot a lot of “bad” ones and learn from them, so I do believe a camera with a bit more bells and whistles does help. The only problem is learning how to use all the bells and whistles which I am learning each time I go out:-) You have an eye, that is something that you can’t teach:-) The mechanical stuff is just practice, so get a new camera and just shoot, shoot, and shoot, and you will see a difference….but you do have an eye for it, so that is good!

      • Robbie says:

        I just took another look at your photos, + you really have an eye for composition, you do not take bad pictures. A class will help with leaning how to use a new camera, so it might be a good idea, but I found many tutorials on you-tube or the internet which helped a lot. The manuel that comes with the camera is okay, to turn it on and shoot. I got some books called “Rebel Canon for dummies”-lol..that helped a lot! They have booklets like that for cameras:-) I see a big difference in my pictures with my new camera compared to my old one, but I still believe you can learn “how” to use a camera, but if you don’t have an “eye” for composition an upgrade won’t change that:-)

      • Chloris says:

        Thank you for your advice. I have actually been looking at reviews for cameras this morning and I am seriously thinking of taking the plunge. I would never have thought of it if I hadn’ t seen such wonderful photos on blogs like yours.

      • Robbie says:

        🙂 jump in and you won’t regret!

  8. AnnetteM says:

    Wonderful photos of all the plants – lots of new ones for me too. That red Altroemaria is gorgeous, but I love all the whites too. I would love to visit that garden one day.

  9. Alison says:

    Some day I would love to visit Sissinghurst, until then, other bloggers’ photos, like yours, will have to do. Thanks for sharing them, I enjoyed the white garden very much.

  10. Julie says:

    Thank you Chloris for sharing your lovely photos of Sissinghurst. I went a few years ago and loved it – it will be interesting to see if there are many changes with the new head gardener.

    • Chloris says:

      I think each new gardener has the challenge of keeping the garden in the spirit of Vita and Harold and at the same time imposing fresh ideas of their own.

  11. Julie says:

    This is a really lovely post, looks like a wonderful trip, my technical abilities have left me struggling here, I am trying to give you the link to the Sissinghurst blog, which I am sure you would enjoy, its called Sissinghurst garden and is on wordpress. I hope you find it, as its full of brilliant insights into the garden there, written by different members of the gardening team who run Sissinghurst.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Julie I will have a look. We did get an interesting introductory talk by Troy. Sarah Cooke who used to be head gardener there is a member of my garden group. I am hoping to get some seeds of that gorgeous Aquilegia formosa from her.

  12. A wonderful garden, we were fortunate to visit about 10 years ago. The famous White garden was everything I was expecting, but there was so much more. The Cottage garden was, as you have shown, a total contrast – full of colour. What sticks in my mind, though, was the Nuttery, a walk dedicated to Cobnuts, with wonderful spring under planting. Lots of lime-green Matteuccia struthiopteris and Euphorbia and masses of cream and white flowers. Not that we were there at the right time – it was August when we visited- but still a beautiful, cool, green space. The garden had so many unique features. I’m looking forward to your next post! By the way, do you know who’s statue is the focus in the nuttery?

  13. pbmgarden says:

    Enjoyed this little tour with you. I also like the green centers of the Dianthus ‘Charles Musgrave’–another item to look for someday. The big copper tub is grand.

  14. Alain says:

    Thank you for these pictures. They brought back memories of visiting the garden.
    I grow Dictamus albus and like it a lot but in my experience it is a plant that cannot be moved. You have to make sure it is put where you want it for good.

    • Chloris says:

      Mine has always dwindled and disappeared. Do you set fire to yours?

      • Alain says:

        No, I have never tried setting them on fire. However, I have moved some and always lost them. The ones I have now are staying put. Thank you for mentioning in the following post that regale lilies need feeding. I started dozens from seed and they bloomed for the first time last year. They were acceptable but could have been more lush. No doubt they need richer soil than I am providing.

  15. Christina says:

    A lovely post evoking very fond memories of visiting this wonderful garden. I sW it for the first time in June so this was an even more special reminder. Thank you

  16. Annette says:

    It’s the English garden par excellence, isn’t it. I’m reading one of Vita’s books and enjoy her writing a lot. A friend of mine copied Rosa mulliganii with arbour and wow, what a show in June!

  17. bittster says:

    …and I can’t even get a half dozen zinnias planted out.
    Love it. And having a tower to overlook your domain doesn’t hurt either. This will always be one of my top to-visit gardens, hopefully someday 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      But Vita had gardeners to plant out her Zinnias. The tower is what I envy. If only we all had towers we would all be able to write deathless prose and lyrical poetry.

  18. Laurin Lindsey says:

    How lovely…especially the white garden! I look forward to a post on the roses. I have only been to Sissinghurst once and it was in the fall many many years ago when I lived in London for a year. I really need to put together a garden tour trip to UK and come visit again. Thank you for the great photographs!

  19. Cathy says:

    Thanks for sharing your visit Chloris – I am guessing that opening time on a wet day might be the quietest time, although quite possibly there may never be such a time at Sissinghurst 🙂 I was the only person at Barnsdale for nearly an hour on a day like that last year and I felt as if I owned it! I see what you mean about the Aquilegia formosa, although it looks rather redder than A Oranges and Lemons.

  20. Chloris says:

    Apparently they are now open until 7 o’clock in the summer. I think it would be quieter in the evenings.

  21. We visited Sissinghurst in early September last year, and I must say the white garden looks much lovelier in June than when we saw it in the harsher late summer light. I do love the arbor with white roses. I can imagine sitting there with great contentment.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes it needs the soft light of early summer or better still- dusk. Vita said: ‘ I cannot help hoping that the great barn- owl will sweep silently across the pale garden, next summer, in the twilight.’ How lovely that would be.
      Actually, I saw a barn owl today in broad daylight swooping across the field across the road. I could have done with Judy and her new camera. I just got a fuzzy blur.

  22. Flighty says:

    A lovely post and terrific photos. I’ve visited there a couple of times, albeit a good few years ago, and as white is one of my favourite flower colours really enjoyed it. Like many such gardens it really needs visiting at different times of the year to be properly appreciated. xx

  23. Chloris says:

    Yes June is definitely the time for the white garden and preferably in the evening as Sissinghurst is now open until 7 pm.

  24. Mel says:

    Love all the detail and thoughts you have put into this post. We went recently and because of a traffic jam didn’t get there till 6pm. It meant we had a whistle stop visit but almost had the place to ourselves which was wonderful. The rose in the white garden didn’t cover the pergola as much as I remember. Is this just a cutting back exercise they have done this year?

  25. Chloris says:

    I expect they have to cut it back regularly, Rosa mulliganii is such a strong grower. They need to make sure it doesn’t attack garden visitors. Also the lovely Chinese bowl needs to be visible.

  26. Happy to see Sissinghurst in good form. I visited in September and have to say it was not the ideal time. Of course, it didn’t help that we visited Great Dix with its over-the-top autumn garden on the same day. My favorite visit of all time was in May. Oh, the glorious trilliums! Will be interesting to see what happens to the Irish yews, don’t you think?

  27. Well now that is something to aspire to isn’t it!! WOW! Lovely photos.

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