Today is a virtual tour of Sissinghurst Castle Garden. Sissinghurst was the home of the writer (garden writer, novelist, poet) Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson. According to Gardens of the National Trust by Stephen Lacey, Vita Sackville-West fell in love with the castle in April 1930. She says "It was Sleeping Beauty's Castle; but a castle running away into sordidness and squalor; a garden crying out for rescue." Sordidness and squalor have been thoroughly routed, but there is certainly a fairy-tale charm about it. Let's take a brief tour. Step this way...
I learned stuff anyway. Here's a nice unexpected example of color echos.
The most famous of the color gardens at Sissinghurst castle is the white garden.
I also learned that I want more clematis.
Another thing I learned from seeing gardens in England is that it's OK not to have one. I do love the jam-packed flowery look. I already knew enough to know that I can't grow, say, delphiniums in Southeastern Virginia, but I have read what sounds like good advice, which is that you can have a cottage garden feel with what does grow in your climate. But what I can never get is the timing. I would love to have more combinations like the lilies and alliums shown above in my garden but the plants I want to combine never seem to be blooming at the same time. I have plants blooming most of the year, but not usually a lot of different kinds at once. I'm going to keep plugging along and grow more plants and try to keep making notes about what does well and when it's in bloom (I love looking at people's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day entries to help with this too). But I noticed something odd in England. I was there in June. There were poppies and chamomile blooming. The poppies and chamomile were already pretty much done in my garden. And there were sunflowers and goldenrod blooming! I have no expectation of sunflowers and goldenrod until August. I have some half-crocked theories to explain this English unseasonal magic but none of them hold water. If anyone reading this has an explanation, please enlighten me with a comment! But I'm chalking it up as one of the unknowable mysteries of nature. Like all the unknowable mysteries, it is both humbling and comforting. Here's how I see it. I cannot have both chamomile and sunflowers in my garden at the same time so a true English garden may be fundamentally unachievable. On the other hand, I don't want to have chamomile and sunflowers in my garden at the same time. I love the seasonality of gardening here too much for that. Being in England among all these beautiful and sophisticated gardens taught me something absolutely priceless. Squalid and sordid though it may be, I love my own garden best of all.