Posted by: marymarthatours | February 28, 2010

The Herb Garden at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

When our 2010 Herb Garden Tour stops at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, I will be making my fourth visit to this amazing site in Kent.  On my first visit over 25 years ago, my husband, son, godson, and I ate our lunch of locally-purchased cheese and biscuits sitting on the grass next to the parking lot.  We went into the garden, and I climbed to the top of the tower in which Vita had her office and did her writing.

  Vita’s tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Vita Sackville West had long been my gardening heroine.  She and her husband, Harold Nicolson, bought the derelict estate in 1930 and brought it to life.  Harold was the designer of the garden rooms and vistas, while Vita was the artist of plants who filled those spaces with beauty.  She began her writing career as a poet and novelist and finished it as a distinguished garden writer.

  Vita’s study always has fresh flowers

I have explored most of the rooms or spaces that Vita and Harold created, the rose garden, the cottage garden, the orchard, the nuttery, and, of course, the famous White Garden.

The White Garden and the Rose Garden in June as seen from the tower

The one area that I haven’t seen yet is tucked in a back corner.  This is the Sissinghurst Castle Garden Herb Garden.  It’s odd that Vita choose to site this garden so far away from the domestic areas.  But then, it seems that Vita’s intention wasn’t culinary but historical and romantic.  Many of the 80 varieties of herbs grown in the Sissinghurst Castle herb garden are medicinal, planted in the small beds typical of the apothecary gardens of the middle ages.

In 1967, Vita and Harold’s son Nigel Nicolson gave Sissinghurst Castle Garden to the National Trust.  Since then the National Trust has had the challenge of trying to maintain the spirit of Vita’s garden while accommodating huge numbers of visitors.  According to Kirk Johnson in his Internet articles on Sissinghurst, “Of all the gardens at Sissinghurst, it is the Herb Garden that has most benefited from the stewardship of the National Trust”.  I can’t wait to see it.

(by Mary)

Kirk Johnson’s article on the Sissinghurst Herb Garden – www.suite101.com/article.cfm/garden_design/80733

National Trust Sissinghurst Castle Garden – www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst/

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