Thursday, April 14, 2016

_______________ GARDEN TREASURES (5) - SISSINGHURST ______________

Sissinghurst's garden was created in the 1930's by Vita Sackville-West, poet and gardening writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. They were a part of what was known as the 'Bloomsbury Set'.

If you would like to know  the history of Sissinghurst Castle Garden and the lives of its creators there is a very good succinct description here:

I have nothing to add to Wikipedia's good coverage except to comment on an intriguing aspect of the source of the creative spirit which drove one of the gardens creators (Vita), which I will do at the end of this posting.

Great views were obtained by climbing the tower (first photo) which had a number of levels, one of which was Vita's retreat and writing room.

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? for the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind" - Vita Sackville-West (1892 - 1962)

One of the gardens 'Rooms' is the famous 'White Garden'. Of course moi went looking for a coloured flower and promptly found one - yes I know, a bit perverse, but there you are, it's my Jack in the Beanstalk gene.
A classic English garden feature - vibrant plantings facing the sun beneath a sheltering high brick wall.

The free standing tower I am photographing from was once part of a surrounding quadrangular wall surrounding a central 'Keep'.

"I sing the cycle of my country's year,
I sing the tillage, and the reaping sing,
Classic monotony, that modes and wars
Leave undisturbed, unbettered, for their best
Was born immediate, of expediency"- Vita Sackville West

"The country habit has me by the heart,
For he's bewitched for ever who has seen,
Not with his eyes but with his vision, Spring
Flow down the woods and stipple leaves with sun,
As each man knows the life that fits him best,
The shape it makes in his soul, the tune, the tone,
And after ranging on a tentative flight
Stoops like the merlin to the constant lure" - Vita Sackville West

"She walks among the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water—
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter" - Vita Sackville West

"Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind; how the observation of last year seems childish, superficial; how this year — even this week — even with this new phrase — it seems to us that we have grown to a new maturity. It may be a fallacious persuasion, but at least it is stimulating, and so long as it persists, one does not stagnate.
I look back as through a telescope, and see, in the little bright circle of the glass, moving flocks and ruined cities" - Vita Sackville West

"I suppose the pleasure of the country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live. That is a truism when said, but anything but a truism when daily observed. Nothing shows up the difference between the thing said or read, so much as the daily experience of it" - Vita Sackville West

"It isn't that I don't like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged" - Vita Sackville West

"The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows" - Vita Sackville West 

On the death of Vita's father the beloved family estate Knole House that she loved with a passion was not inherited by Vita. The usual English aristocratic inheritance customs of the time were followed by the Sackville family. These customs prevented Vita from inheriting. Knole House followed the title and was bequeathed by her father to his NEWPHEW! Charles who became the 4th Baron of Knole House. This was a bitter blow to Vita.

Despite this reality Vita's creative spirit went on to build with her husband Harold Nicolson a thing of great beauty........ Sissinghurst - A truly magnificent gardening legacy and philosophy that is now administered by the National Trust in perpetuity for the enjoyment of all. It is this tale of a phoenix of sorts arising from the ashes of great disappointment that I find both inspiring and moving.


Paul Mullings said...

A truly beautiful place I have been fortunate to visit.

Alden Smith said...

Paul, it IS truly beautiful, and as you well know photographs only do it a kind of justice held at arms length and not by any means the same as actually being there.

Bursledon Blogger said...

What a great garden, I'm feeling guilty that we live relatively close by and have never been there to experience it.

Vita's commentary about writing or loosing the moment is so true. The pace of life seems so fast these days, if it wasn't mapped by some key event many recorded on my rambling blog I'd have trouble recalling all the things we've done over the years

Alden Smith said...

Max, I have felt the same guilt about places in NZ. I have just returned from a 2 week holiday in the deep south of the South Island visiting places I should have visited decades ago; work (including the pace of life that you mention) and a thousand other things having got in the way of doing the exploring in the past. It's easier of course now that I am retired and have more time.

Alden Smith said...

..... and you are correct about the writing - I look on my blogging as a kind of journal, it's therapeutic as well as being a diary of events to look back on.

Dan Gurney said...

What an impressive garden. Thanks for sharing. I had never heard of it.

You got some great photos from up in the tower. With the advent of GoPro cameras and drones, aerial photos from relatively low altitudes similar to the photos you took from the tower are becoming much more commonplace.

Alden Smith said...

Dan, I hadn't heard of it either - seems the world is full of little oasis's (not sure where to put the apostrophe! LOL) just waiting to be explored.

My trusty camera doesn't have a very wide angle lens which limits on board sailing shots and some landscape work where a panoramic picture is sometimes more appropriate.

There is a commercial kite and camera arrangement that some yachties use for aerial shots and filming when sailing (The circumnavigating yacht 'Vixen' photos of which have been published in Wooden Boat Magazine are an example) - but I think in the future movies taken by small sophisticated drones may become the new norm.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Alden, not retired yet, but we just spent a week doing not very much down on the Loire in France, rather than do the tourist, rush around we cycled the couple of kilometers into town, ate a long slow lunch in the local restaurant, sat on the terrace in the sunshine (while one of us climbed trees and played in the garden). It's amazing how much more you notice when you just slow down.

Alden said...

Max, You have a very sane approach to having a holiday. I agree quality rather than quantity allows for a much more mindful and aware approach to a holiday. A friend of mine and his extended family flew to France last year, rented a house in the country and just explored and enjoyed the surrounding area - excellent idea.

Ben said...

Saw Sissinghurst Castle 42 years ago at a time I really did not fancy gardening at all. Still I was impressed by the ordered disorder or is it disordered order? We were there on bikes, so the pace was inspiring too. I also liked the bricks and how they were used. The weather must be good though. You were lucky last year.

Alden Smith said...

Ben, we were lucky with the weather in your Northern Hemisphere - not a drop of rain the whole time. We were also lucky during our trip to the deep south of NZ two weeks ago - which I will blog about soon.

I guess if you were taking the backroads on bikes during that time you would have been seeing a lot of the countryside at a nice slow pace - cycling is always a nice way to travel.