A Two Garden Week

It is always a delight to visit a garden and we have been to two this week. The first of them, Sissinghurst in Kent, is surely one of the most famous gardens in the country, created by the poet and writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson, who bought the estate in 1930. They lovingly worked on developing the garden for many decades until Vita’s death in 1962 when the property was given to the National Trust. The Trust has continued to honour Vita and Harold’s legacy and vision for the garden and now, sixty years on, it remains most impressive.

The orchard was unfortunately out of bounds because the ground was boggy after the very wet spring
The garden is divided into a series of rooms, each with a different theme and with Vita’s joyous informal planting around Harold’s hard landscaping structures. The lime walk was amazing with all the spring flowers – I’m afraid that my photo doesn’t really do it justice
It was a great time of the year to visit Sissinghurst. June will also be lovely no doubt when its celebrated roses are out in flower
This is the little cottage in the grounds where Vita and Harold actually lived. Another stunning planting scheme of spring bulbs and flowers
We felt inspired by so many things that we saw in the garden, including growing quince against a brick wall like this – maybe we will attempt this ourselves?
Bringing smaller flowers up higher so that they are more noticeable was also a successful trick
I could have spent hours wandering around these beds admiring the plant combinations
I bet there are lots of bats hunting over this pond at night
I loved the way the fig had been artistically trained into swirls on the wall

Sissinghurst is only an hour away from home and we hope to visit again this year to see the garden in a different season.

The second garden we visited was Pashley Manor just over the border into East Sussex.

Pashley Manor itself is privately owned

A tulip festival is held here every April although, with this late spring, several of the tulip varieties were yet to open:

This bed had not yet reached its full glory – the vagaries of the British weather must be such a stress for the festival organisers
Enough of the tulips in the garden were open, however, for there still to be a magnificent display. Tulipa Banja Luka
Pashley Manor was training its figs in the same way as at Sissinghurst. I would love to see what this looks like when it is all in leaf
Unusual use of a strawberry planter
Surely these mallards would prefer to be on the large lake that was nearby?
I very much liked this goldfinch sculpture by Joel Walker, but not enough to consider paying the £3,400 being asked for it

Bloms Bulbs had a tent at the exit displaying some of the varieties that that they offer, and you could order bulbs to arrive in a few months ready for the autumn planting:

We like the elegance of the goblet tulips. This eye-catching variety is called Fly Away

I asked if they had any suggestions to stop rats removing bulbs from the ground over the winter and I’m pleased to say that they did – they recommend that I buy a big bag of chilli powder and roll the bulbs in the chilli before planting them out. What an excellent idea and one that I will certainly be trying – that will give the rats a shock.

Although most of the tulip bulbs I planted last autumn did disappear, the rats missed one or two and I cut these and brought them into the house this week. Something about the riotous hotch potch of colour and form brings me such pleasure:

But not much to show from 160 tulip bulbs

Elsewhere in the meadows, the apple blossom is out and it is the most beautiful thing, like raspberry ripple ice cream:

We saw our first damselfly of the year. With his black legs and black wing spots, this is a just-hatched large red damselfly. When he is mature he will have red stripes on his thorax rather than yellow:

This male smooth newt was wagging his tail at a female – I had heard that they do a display dance but had never seen this before:

Males look very splendid at this time of year
Wagging his tail at the female who is on the left

We are interested to see what the new chalky butterfly bank does in its first year. There are seedlings germinating on it now and we are filled with anticipation to see what grows:

The reptiles are up and about. Here are two lizards under a sampling square, one of them watching me with a beady eye….

….and a female slow worm with her dark flanks:

In the wood, we have had our first glimpse of a fox cub:

And lots of foxes and badgers have peered down this rabbit hole this week:

A male pied flycatcher comes down for a pit stop. We only see these lovely birds briefly on passage, tantalisingly luring us to follow them to the woods of Wales and the North:

I think this is an absolutely amazing trail camera shot with the shadow of the great tit carrying moss emblazoned across the front of the box:

And this same camera has also caught a dormouse around the box on several nights:

So, what is going on at the tawny owl nest box this week? Although I did get photos of owls at the box in the first half of the week….

…when we visited yesterday there were no owl photos at all around the box. There was, however, this stock dove looking in. Stock doves will definitely nest in a big box like this:

What I am hoping is that, when she peered in, she saw an owl incubating eggs and decided to go elsewhere

The last photos this week are of what is surely the King of the Forest here, one of the magnificent buzzards who sit at the top of the avian food chain and grace us with their presence:

3 thoughts on “A Two Garden Week

  1. Those gardens both look beautiful. And I love all those tulips. Interesting to hear about chilli powder, hopefully that will work with your bulbs. Funny to see the ducks making themselves at home in the pool.

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