I’ve been really excited about writing this post. Up until now, my posts have featured far-flung and exciting holiday destinations.
I suppose, to some of you, England might sound like a far-flung and exciting holiday destination. To me, it’s the beautiful country I call home.
So come with me on a journey, through green fields and rolling meadows, to an English Country Garden...
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful English countryside, in the County of Kent, lies Sissinghurst Castle Garden, an important National Trust Site.
The National Trust is a British Charity, founded in 1895, for the preservation of historic or places of natural beauty around the British Isles.
Not far from the picturesque villages of Cranbrook and Goudhurst, in the Weald of Kent – an area of ancient forest-land – Sissinghurst is the ideal place to wile away a warm summer’s day. Last week, my friend Jenny and I did just that!
Even whilst walking from the car-park to the outskirts of the garden, you can already sense that you are somewhere rural. Wild flowers and grasses sway in the breeze, emitting a hum of hidden insects. Swallows and Swifts dart and dive overhead and butterflies flutter about constantly.
Meandering down a path to the gardens, we were met by this vibrant swathe of blue. On talking to one of the helpful volunteers, we discovered it’s a mixture of Wild Borage and Phacilia, grown from seed, in order to attract bees and butterflies.
Opposite the entrance to the garden, we came across these old Oast Houses, which are a common sight in the county of Kent. Oast Houses, are strange cylindrical buildings with cone-shaped rooves, originally designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process.
History of Sissinghurst
Vita Sackville-West, (famous English Poet, Novelist, and garden designer) and her husband, Harold Nicolson, moved to Sissinghurst Castle in 1932, and began lovingly creating the incredible gardens that visitors from all over the world enjoy walking round today.
But the history of Sissinghurst goes back to Saxon times, when it began life as a pig farm. Within a few years, a moated Manor House had been built on the site. Sadly, nothing remains of this original house today.
Later, Sissinghurst was transformed into a Renaissance Courtyard house, with 37 fireplaces, a vaulted gallery, and a tower at its centre.
So although there’s not much of a castle at Sissinghurst, in the traditional sense of the word, there is still to this day, a tower to climb, which is accessed by a winding spiral staircase.
There is a wonderful harmony about the garden. Nothing shouts too loud or clamours for attention – all the colours, just work seamlessly together resulting in a beguiling softness that instantly soothes away the stress of City living.
There are an abundance of archways and doorways that beckon you through. What will you discover next?
Climbing The Tower
The County of Kent is nick-named ‘The Garden of England’, due to the sheer amount of green space. At the top of the Castle Tower, with views over the countryside, it’s easy to see why. Effectively, Sissinghurst is a garden within a Garden.
Scientists say that green is the most restful colour to the human eye. Perhaps that’s why God made so much of it?
The White Garden
After climbing back down from the tower, we discovered The White Garden, where, you guessed it, everything is white. This garden is breath-taking, with such a calming and restorative effect on the mind, body and soul.
Before going home, Jenny and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to enjoy a ‘Cream Tea’ – a quintisential British Treat – in the lovely National Trust Tea Shop. For anyone who is curious, a Cream Tea consists of a fruit scone, lavishly topped with clotted cream and jam (strawberry or raspberry conserve) – all served with a lovely pot of English Breakfast tea, of course! It was absolutely heavenly!
So if you’re ever driving along the A21 motorway in England – look out for sign-posts to Sissinghurst. I promise you, you’ll be glad you stopped by.
I hope you enjoyed this post.