Hail to thee,blithe spirit !Bird thou never wert, That from heaven,or near it,Pourest they full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
The lady Vita Sackville West set her sail to a forsaken estate in the lovely county of Kent. Her husband a dipolmat and author Harold Nicholson too had a part to play in his wifes adventure.
Born at Knole House,the largest home in the world, she the elder lost her inheritance owing to law .Her younger brother took the titles and the property and so left his sister Vita with nothing but a small allowance.
Determined to survive they bought Sissinghurst a fallen down ruin with one feature tower belonging to the old estate that was no longer in existence.
It took courage to effect that house and gardens and Vita shone brightly as her art was performed. Her famous moonlight white garden is a real artists design. She poured her self,her very soul into the build of that garden. It has been copied all over the world by lesser mortals. Her genius shown only in the original.
On saying this I must be fair as one knows she made at least two visits to the already established gardens of Hidcote by creator owner Major Lawrence Johnston.
Vita took many ideas from him and his work. Hedged rooms and vista drives were not Vitas ideas at all. Much of older gardens are echoed in her design. What they accomplished was amazing and Sissinghurst deserves the awards it has in visitor figures as a top set of gardens I so agree.It was laid out as she wanted it and her magic began to be seen.
Hidcote is perhaps a greater set of gardens in some ways but then its creator as true art design master had the money where it was easier to do what comes in to ones head. Vita eventually had poems published and income was made to expand her ideals . She loved plants .Roses and Iris her favorites Id say. Her husband the classical straight drives and statues to Vitas soft borders and gay abandon of an almost cottage style garden maker formed her style.
When she had a gazebo built and draped that rose rambler Mulliganii spread over it something happened and she saw it as it happened. The green turns to white and a white garden any time looks good but see Vitas white garden in the moonlight to know what a gal she was. I was lucky to see it in full swing.
Never so sure of her self she meet Virginia Wolfe as a writer far greater than herself and she went to see her to learn .They had an affair that lasted until Wolfe drown herself, her mind in upset stammer. Poor Vita was so broken but Harold seemed to settle her mind down over time. He must have loved her well to accept that he came second in her life.
What a gardener is must be what Vita was .Determination to succeed was her drive .Art was her gift and imagination all gardeners must be born with to achieve not just a garden but a masterpiece. A sort of living painting of another more peaceful, delightful world. An escape from many things a mind can hold .
I listened to her read from her poem entitled The Land. Her velvet smooth but carved out words in that ruler of old world truth hit me as my great aunts had done with something in a woman I admire. That English inner strength and forthright moral courage that must be seen as almost powerful though never severe . Her voice is a thing no longer heard in todays world.In this I point not to her alone but to her sex of femine knowing and ability to be heard. In this Vita had the passion of a writer along with the land she loved called England.
It was in the 1950s I first heard her speak and I just had to listen it was that kind of voice that offered education to a young lad, wet behind the ears, and a garden lover from birth. Desperate to gain a single fact .Delight in words and learn of plant names all filled a boys willing mind.
Like Monty Don I can say I have visited many gardens 100s of them all over this being my take of a arched tunnel deer proof passage unto another garden room.
Europe and Vita garden still holds my heart. Sissinghurst has not the grandour of Tivilli or The gardens at Versailes nor the coves of Alsatia and the India gardens of Tajmahal .But in its simple glory it is a pallet of an artist from deep down in her soul. It is real and living. All else as lovely as it is is really not alive in quite the same way. Just thought I had to say all this no matter what. Vita was the survivor in the end. Her work serves for ever as long as England shall live to remind of us who she was .Now that is power my friends .To leave this world with a message and a gift her soul may rest in peace. Or is she still wandering around her plot .Observing the many 1000s of interested mortals .Who knows?
Hidcote was part of her plan to build in her style as new garden owner Vita had to see what all where up to before ever starting on her ruin lands and home.
From the bathing pool she took her round hedge lawn idea from.
But we all do this in our dreams and thoughts hopes and desires .Only some of us make it work in the end. For Vita her own idea over shadows all .Here her white garden was her most iconic idea.
The White garden Sissinghurst castle Kent England. Complete the work of Lady Vita Sackville West . Must be seen and scent remembered as no photo does it full justice. Vita came to call it her moonlight garden .The white shades of flowers in bloom on a soft warm summer night of a full moon and clear sky tell of the tales of Omar Kyam and the mind travels back in time on an English dream of scented linen whites and magic in the air we breath .It has been copied all over this world .Iconic power to influence the gardener in us all. Then not one can capture the simple magic this garden weaves .
Vita died as she lived trowel in hand and plants in her mind. March 9th 1892 ,June 2nd 1962.
Thank you all for your support .Sir Kevin. G-d bless us all.
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2021