One of the most famous gardens in the world is the garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. Their son, Nigel, gave the house and gardens to the National Trust and he gave his parent’s papers to Indiana University where they are housed in the Lilly Library on the Bloomington campus.
The papers are a wonderful resource for scholars and garden enthusiasts. Sissinghurst is a very personal garden, but one which has been widely imitated – especially the compartmental arrangement of garden areas and the magical white garden.
A Fusion Of Gardening Styles: Harold and Vita
Harold designed the plan uniquely–his straight lines were a departure from the Gertrude Jekyll style of flower gardening. However, Vita’s luxuriant plantings created an overall feeling of abundance and romanticism. Old-fashioned roses, under-planted with hardy geraniums, still perfume the air and delight visitors. Clematis and roses drape together on the antique brick walls.
The colors are soft, and the blooms are luxuriant. Each area of the garden has a different identity – a marriage of Harold’s austere design and Vita’s extravagant plant combinations. The Tower at Sissinghurst is where Vita wrote her garden column published in “The Observer.” It made her the best-known amateur garden authority of her time.