Sissinghurst Under a Cloud (literally) on October 1st

October 19, 2012

This was my fifth visit to Sissinghurst in thirty years. Why so infrequent a visitor to what must be the most romantic English garden…so imaginatively planned, so well planted and so beautifully kept? Well, I live in Northamptonshire, Sissinghurst is in Kent and London sprawls between. One’s resolve falters at the thought of getting round the M25, so hectic, so jammed with cars, so dispiritingly ugly in every way.  But we were spending a few days in the charming town of Whitstable so the nastiness was already got over and we whisked through the pretty Kent villages in the best of moods despite incessant rain. Because of the weather and it being late … very late … in the season the car park was almost empty. One coach from Holland and a scattering of cars. Buoyed up by a decent lunch in the restaurant …very good vegetables …and a glass or two of wine we entered the garden …..

this is one of four bronze urns at the entrance, planted with Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’ ….


….to find ourselves very nearly alone. On former visits one has fought one’s way down narrow paths past streams of people embosomed with cameras, waterbottles, coats and notebooks and patiently waited one’s turn to get a glimpse, through the gaps between heads and shoulders, of an entire shrub.

The Yew Walk

The Lime Walk
The Upper Court

I won’t show you any detailed borders because enthusiastic gardeners will already have whole books of them taken by professional photographers and unenthusiastic ones will be bored. I just want to say that the experience of being alone in this lovely place (husband having got fed up with the rain) wrought quite unexpectedly upon my feelings. There was delight, yes, spades of it, but also an inkling of the terrific sadness one must feel when one knows one is about to be separated by death from the cherished garden to which one has devoted so much time and thought and energy.  This had not occurred to me before because I prefer not to DWELL  …but I was much moved.

9 Responses to “Sissinghurst Under a Cloud (literally) on October 1st”

  1. leoneruth said

    Such a beautiful place!
    I am most struck by the photography.The photos really capture the mood and the beauty of this garden.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful garden with all of us who are continents away.

  2. Liz said

    Lovely picture of the Upper Court, the rain washed pavement really adds to the picture. I felt a great sense of continuity looking at that picture. That building has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. Thank you for sharing that with us Victoria.

  3. A. said

    As imperceptibly as grief
    The summer lapsed away,–
    Too imperceptible, at last,
    To seem like perfidy.

    A quietness distilled,
    As twilight long begun,
    Or Nature, spending with herself
    Sequestered afternoon.

    The dusk drew earlier in,
    The morning foreign shone,–
    A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
    As guest who would be gone.

    And thus, without a wing,
    Or service of a keel,
    Our summer made her light escape
    Into the beautiful.

    Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

  4. A. Waiting Moderation said

    There once was a writer victorious (in Pytchley)
    Who régaled the plebs oh! so glorious(ly, richly)
    With her gardens and prose
    As enchanting as those which
    Appear for Nirvana notorious.

    Ray on Dusoleil (2008 – )
    From: Immortality, Vol. 1 (2012)

  5. Annegret said

    this is the garden:colours come and go,
    frail azures fluttering from night’s outer wing
    strong silent greens silently lingering,
    absolute lights like baths of golden snow.
    This is the garden:pursed lips do blow
    upon cool flutes within wide glooms,and sing
    (of harps celestial to the quivering string)
    invisible faces hauntingly and slow.

    This is the garden. Time shall surely reap
    and on Death’s blade lie many a flower curled,
    in other lands where other songs be sung;
    yet stand They here enraptured,as among
    the slow deep trees perpetual of sleep
    some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.

    e. e. cummings (1894 – 1962)

  6. Annegret said

    Dear Victoria,

    as the coming months will be mainly spent offline here, I shall be unable to follow your delightful blog with poetic musings – much to everyone’s relief, I suspect.

    My family and I wish you all the very best and thank you for giving us prose that is unfailingly entertaining, civilized and stylish, thoughtful and of such great human warmth. Utile et dulce!

    Here least and last (but meant as a token of appreciation) some fine poetry of my own creation, with some rococo refinements of established poetic form and metre. Emily Dickinson (had she been born in Ireland) would have been proud of me.

    there once was a writer Victorious (in P … )
    who régaled the plebs oh! so glorious(ly, richly)
    with her Gardens and Prose
    as enchanting as those – which
    appear for Nirvana notorious.

    Rayon Desoleil
    From: Immortality, Vol. 1

    • Dear Annegret

      Well, I call that unkind, I must say, swanning off and leaving me to my own devices. What shall I do with no poetry to entertain me? Must you go? Oh dear, I shall miss you.

      Best wishes to your family, and especially to you Victoria

      Victoria Clayton

      • Annegret said

        Dear Victoria,

        Thank you for your kindness! & if my babbling brook of poetic antiphony has diverted you, then never fear: I’m by this time so thoroughly addicted to your blog that I cannot do without it for long(er than necessary) at any rate, as is surely true for many others. And when one creates such dependencies – as a novelist & (lovely word) blogger – one surely has a public obligation & no excuse whatsoever not to go on – oh no! So in late Winter …

        I shall return again; I shall return
        To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes
        At golden noon the forest fires burn,
        Wafting their blue-black smoke to sapphire skies.
        I shall return to loiter by the streams
        That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses …

        Claude MacKay (1889 – 1948)

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