During the sweltering heat of the start of August, my garden loving mother and I headed down south, first and foremost to visit my grandpa (who is 99!!), but we figured why not fit our version of sightseeing into the trip too. We've always loved a garden day out, even since before I started running this business, so the prospect of Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and Perch Hill.
So let's start where we started...
Sissinghurst Castle and Garden
Sissinghurst is the famous home of writer Vita Sackvill-West and her husband Harold Nicolson who, in the 1930's, dedicated their lives to restoring and rebuilding this once ruined castle and grounds in their image. As it says of the property on the National Trust website "Historic, poetic, iconic: a refuge dedicated to beauty. Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson fell in love with Sissinghurst Castle and created a world-renowned garden." I think 'a refuge dedicated to beauty' sums this place up perfectly. The famous white garden and the incredible tower (with dedicated writing room) in the middle of the grounds are just two reasons I'd be moving in!
I think one of my favourite areas of the gardens at Sissinghurst was the Delos Garden. This Dan Pearson masterpiece was almost perfect to view on one of the hottest days of the year, replicating the inspiration for the garden, Vita and Harolds visit to Delos in 1935. They were desperate to use the inspiration of Greek ruins they had seen and use the ruins of Sissinghurst to create a Mediterranean idyll. Their planting, lack of knowledge and execution unfortunately resulted in something more like a woodland garden, beautiful, but not what they had originally planned.
The National Trust have a great piece about the Delos garden on their website:
"The spirit of experimentation and inspiration that guided Vita and Harold is evident throughout the gardens. Visiting a ruined island in Greece, returning to rural Kent to set about putting in broken columns and false ruins, ‘smothered there by mats of the wild flowers of Greece’, is a wonderful example of Vita’s response to what she found beautiful....
Working with garden designer Dan Pearson, who has helped to redesign the space, the team hopes that Delos matches Vita and Harold’s original vision. Using current design practices, clever landscaping and a broader spectrum of planting, a more robust garden has been created while still maintaining the spirit of Vita’s ambition in consultation with the property team which drew upon archival research. "
You can read their full article here.
I forgot to charge my digital camera battery for this one, so these are my best phone snaps...
Our second visit of the trip was to the family home of gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. The house and gardens are now under the care of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.
This place was incredible, I fell instantly in love with the jumbled boarders, the mix of colours and textures. At one point I wanted to just hug one of the boarders. In the words of Christopher Lloyd:
"Dixter is a high maintenance garden; I make no bones about that. It is effort that brings reward. There are many borders and much work goes into them. Labour saving ground cover is not for me. If you see ground cover, it’s there because, first and foremost, I like it. If it does also save labour, that is an incidental benefit.
The borders are mixed, not herbaceous. I see no point in segregating plants of differing habit or habits. They can all help one another. So you’ll see shrubs, climbers, hardy and tender perennials, annuals and biennials, all growing together and contributing to the overall tapestry."
I love this ethos and its one I champion in my book, this style of planting is often a great way to showcase a small space and still give a variety of options or flowers to cut from. We can't all afford to give over space to a single huge bed of one flower, so this jam-packed way of adding loads of loveliness in one place is absolutely fantastic for anyone short on space. This is something I've been trying to replicate in my small garden at home and I have definitely come away inspired to recreate some of Great Dixter in Sheffield back yard miniature 🙌🏻
The camera was back in action after a little recharge in the car so there are a few much nicer images mixed in with my phone pics from our trip...
Last but not least...
The legendary garden of Sarah Raven, a place I have dreamed of visiting whilst pouring over the pages of her immaculately photographed catalogs. Needless to say, Sarah has been instrumental in the lives of many flower lovers, her seeds, plants and styling are distinctive and the garden visit definitely lived up to what's in the pages I've been staring at for years.
The garden, like Great Dixter, is a real tribute to creative planting, fitting lots into each individual space. I loved this style of planting and they use amazing bold colours all together to build fantastic layers. There were also specific variety beds filled with annuals and perennials, a lot dedicated to testing varieties. The dahlia section was of particular interest, being my favourite flower you can't blame me for returning there a few times during my visit.
I was also very taken with all the pots and planters, another shot of inspo for my back yard.
I zoned in on some flower close ups in my photos...
So now I just want to spend all my days visiting posh gardens! A girl can certainly dream.
Hope you enjoyed x