The gardens and grounds surround an 1855 farmhouse, bought by Vita Sackville-West, along with 400 acres of farmland, in 1930. The garden was made on the site of a medieval manor and some structures still survive.
Harold Nicolson, a diplomat and author, laid down the main lines of the Sissinghurst design in the 1930s. Vita Sackville-West, a poet, a garden writer and Harold’s wife, took responsibility for the planting at Sissinghurst garden. She worked as an ‘artist-gardener’. Her planting design is seen as brilliant. The historical importance of Sissinghurst Castle Garden comes from its role in transmitting Gertrude Jekyll’s design philosophy to a host of visitors. The garden is in fact a series of some ten separate gardens, all different. Walls and hedges separate the gardens, giving the visitor the impression of peace and privacy.
The White Garden, due to its careful orchestration, is lovely throughout the season. This garden is probably the most famous of the separate gardens at Sissinghurst. It was started in 1950 by replanting the garden to the east of the Priest's House, keeping the original layout but creating a colour scheme of silver and white: focusing on plants with gray or white foliage and flowers of mainly white, but with touches of yellow. Through Vita’s writings we know she had been thinking about creating a white garden for at least a decade. Although other white gardens in England (such as the phlox garden at Hidcote) predated this one, they did not seem to have an influence on the development of the White Garden at Sissinghurst. Some people believe that she was motivated by descriptions of white gardens from hundreds of years earlier in Moghul India.
Among the other gardens are:
The Lime Walk which is a spring garden, but designed by Harold Nicolson on classical Italian lines;
The Cottage Garden, is seen as an improvement of cottage gardens everywhere in England, but maintains a fairly narrow colour band of yellows, reds and oranges. Rare plants mingle with traditional English cottage garden flowers. Surprising views of small hidden spaces and long vistas open up at every turn;
The Rose Garden which is the best known, but is at its peak for little more than the month of June;
The Moat Walk is the name given to the sunken lawn that leads from the Cottage Garden to the moat. This is the third arm of the moat that once surrounded the medieval manor house on three sides. The northern and eastern arms are still filled with water, but it proved too difficult to bring water back into this southern one, so they settled for lawn instead.
The National Trust took over the gardens in 1967.
Opening Dates and Times (please check before visiting)
Tel: 01580 710701
- Picnic areas
- Refreshments - Licensed restaurant. Christmas menu end Nov/Dec. Coffee shop near car park serving light refreshments, outside seating.
- Country walks - Woodland & lake walks open all year. Free. Leaflet available.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden is 1 mile east of Sissinghurst village and 2 miles north east of Cranbrook.
By car: Sissinghurst Castle Garden is in Kent, two miles northeast of Cranbrook and one mile east of of Sissinghurst village on Biddenden Road, off the A262.
By train: Trains from London Charing Cross leave regularly for nearby Staplehurst. The journey takes less than an hour. Special bus services run between the station and Sissinghurst on Tuesday, Friday, Sunday and Bank holidays. On other days, The Maidston-Hastings bus (Arriva route 4/5) stops at Staplehurst Rail Station. Sissinghurst is a 1.25 miles away.
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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015