Monday, August 28, 2006

The White Garden, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent


The White Garden, Sissinghurst
coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook 10" x 8"

We went to Sissinghurst Gardens in Kent on Friday and I produced the above sketch while sat in the corner of the White Garden. The White Garden only contains flowers which are white and rather a lot of 'silver/grey foliage plants.

There's a pergola in one corner - next to the South Cottage - which is covered (I think) by white wisteria. Underneath there is a table and chairs around it which I've used before for drawing and painting. I sat on the table and "he who must not be bored while I sketch" read his latest book "The Ides of August" for those who are interested)

We were greatly irritated by a helicopter who hovered over the garden at a dangerously low height for about 20 minutes or more - a quite horrendous noise. My guess is that they were taking photographs - and also probably breaching air traffic control regulations!

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens were created by Harold Nicolson and designed by Vita Sackville West who used to have a gardening column in the Observer newspaper. Harold Nicolson suggested that the gardens were in reality the true 'portrait of a marriage'. They are now owned and run by the National Trust and are the most visited garden in the UK. The National Trust describe the gardens as follows.......
One of the world's most celebrated gardens, the creation of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson. Developed around the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion. A series of small, enclosed compartments, intimate in scale and romantic in atmosphere, provide outstanding design and colour throughout the season.
It's difficult to know whether to call it a garden or gardens as there are no many different garden rooms' within the overall garden - which is probably one of the reasons why it proves so popular with visitors. The gardens are located in the Weald of Kent, near Goudhust and Tenderten. Directions to the gardens are given in the at the end. It's certainly well worth a visit any time any time you are in Kent. However, please note that the garden is unfortunately closed from the end of October until the middle of March each year.

You can get a very good insight into what the gardens are like from this website about Sissinghurst which has been put together by a devotee and contains lots of photographs.

Sissinghurst is unusual in that it will not allow either tripods or easels into the gardens while they are open to the public.

One of the things I wanted to do on Friday was plan future visits and find potential alternative places to sit which would be out of the way of people and at the same time give me the space to spread out my kit. This is one of the views I found which will be getting a second visit.

However the NT do run courses at the gardens and you can apply to visit when the garden would normally be closed. There is a tutored workshop by Cheryll Fountain on Wednesday 13th September (when it is normally closed) and there are also photography workshops. For details of events in the coming months see this link.

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