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.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Another dreary January day, so I look to my neglected houseplants for a little color. Hey, that's interesting, this is a green oxalis, not a purple one... This plant shows up in the garden store every year around St. Patrick's day and I always fall in love with it's adorable green shamrocks and delicate white flowers, and its charming habit of closing up its leaves every night at bedtime. There's a burgundy-leaved version but it's the fresh green that appeals to me. They can live outside here (I think) but I don't really have anyplace suitable to put it in the ground and I usually don't bother keeping it. However, this one stayed in its impossibly tiny pot all summer in a tray with cuttings so it got more watering and attention than most of my plants usually do. In such a tiny pot, I thought it had a slim chance of also getting through the winter, so I brought it inside. After a very brief winter's nap (too brief?), it's now putting on new growth.
The purple on the new leaves' undersides caught me by surprise more than once, not just because the tops of the leaves are green, but because the purple is more or less intense as the viewing angle and light angle change. It's like an outlandish hat worn by the outlandish wife of Mr. Elton in the movie Emma (in the scene where she tells Emma that she plans to throw a party for Jane Fairfax). Mrs. Elton is wearing a green dress and a green hat, but as she swirls around Emma to conspiratorially take her arm as they walk, the hat changes color remarkably from green to red and back again as the satiny sheen catches the light from different angles. Or, it's like the colors on some bird's feathers, grackles and starlings most accessibly -- take a good look next time they settle in your yard and gobble up all the seed in your feeders. Or the spot on a mourning dove's neck as libido awakes in the early spring. (Really! Make a note to look if you haven't seen it.)
I just watched Emma again for the upteenth time. The dialog in this movie always makes me laugh (like Miss Bates's line "it left us speechless! Speechless, I tell you, and we have not stopped talking about it since.") More than that, it's a great garden movie. Once you have watched it as many times as I have, you won't need to pay so much attention to the plot anymore, and you may find yourself absorbed by the gorgeous flowery places, indoors and out, images from a gardener's fantasy. I just wish I could stop the movie and jump in. Click here for a trailer, including glimpses of some of the beautiful garden scenes (the colors in the movie are lush and vibrant, despite the trailer looking washed out) and even the outlandish hat very briefly at about 0:34.For today's post, I'm joining Lisa's Chaos for Macro Monday for the first time. To see what other people are looking closely at, visit Lisa's blog.