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Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden

Submitted by on March 30, 2021 – 10:01 pmNo Comment

Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a GardenVita Sackville-West has been called the most visionary British horticulturalist of the 20th Century. From 1946 to 1957, she wrote a weekly column in the Observer depicting her life on an estate named Sissinghurst that she and her husband, Harold Nicolson, had been working on since buying it in the 1930s.

These days, Sissinghurst Castle Garden remains among the most famous gardens in England and is designated Grade I on Historic England’s register of historic parks and gardens. Located in the Weald of Kent, England, it once was a Saxon pig farm. It would have been originally called ‘Saxenhurst’, with ‘hurst’ having meant woodland.

When Vita and Harold purchased Sissinghurst in early 1930. the buildings were used to house farm workers, the current famous garden had yet to be laid out and was mostly growing vegetables for the workers. The surrounding farm was growing cereals as well as having well-established orchards and hop gardens. They were the last private owners of Sissinghurst Castle. After Vita’s death in 1962, Harold turned it over to the National Trust.

Victoria Mary Sackville-West (1892 – 1962), usually known as Vita Sackville-West, was an English author and garden designer. She was a successful novelist, poet, and journalist, as well as a prolific letter writer and diarist. She published more than a dozen collections of poetry during her lifetime and 13 novels. She was twice awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature: in 1927 for her pastoral epic, The Land, and in 1933 for her Collected Poems. Sir Harold Nicolson (1886 – 968) was a British diplomat, writer, and politician.

In Sissinghurt: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden (St. Martin’s Press, 2-14), British gardener Sarah Raven — who is married to Vita’s grandson, Adam Nicolson, and lives in the village of Sissinghurst — takes Vita’s writings, adds her own, and incorporates 150 black and white photos plus 24 pages of color photos to tell the story of the gardens.
Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, Kent, England

(Photo, above, courtesy of Sissinghurst Castle Gardens; book cover courtesy of St. Martin’s Press)

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