March 7, 2011

Vita Sackville West in her Garden

Written by Rosa Morgan Lockwood

I was christened Victoria after my mother, but everyone calls me Vita. Though this is only a cursory description of my beloved garden and home, Sissinghurst, I shall strive to do it justice. Some of you may find this of interest due to mine and Harold's unconventional lives. We flung aside the Victorian mold which our straight-laced ancestors created for us. We glutted our youth with freedom, so that we each in turn chose who to love, regardless of marital restraints or the sex of our partner. Virginia Woolf was the most notable of my lovers. Aside from our flamboyant lives, I hope the key reason you visit our garden is the beauty and the inspiration you may find here.

Harold and I designed the garden as a series of rooms divided by high clipped hedges and brick walls, each highlighting a different color or theme. There is a comforting sense of security and even mystery within these green walls.

This photograph was taken from the top of my tower, my refuge for daily writing. Besides novels and poetry, I've written a series of gardening books: "In Your Garden", "In Your Garden Again", "More for Your Garden", and "Even More for Your Garden".
I think I may have been more clever with my titles.

The White Garden is one of my favorite rooms, especially during the evening hours when the canopy of cascading blossoms is at its peak loveliness. I'm gratified in the success of my toils, for my best ideas seldom play up in practice to my expectations.

I love all flowers, even those considered ordinary, for I do not understand snobbishness amongst gardeners.

Harold planted the Lime Walk. Whether in Spring with riotous borders or with Autumn's colorful pots, I find it a meditative place to walk.

What truly brings the garden to life are visitors, and it's the gardener's goal to lead them from one vista to another. A verdant swath with an enticing statue on the horizon is used here to great effect.

I confess, I do not always look so posh in my garden as I do wearing pearls and a velvet jacket. I believe the man who plants a garden feels he has done something for the good of the world, and I hope you'll find this to be true, here at Sissinghurst.


  1. Tim and I were at Sissinghurst a couple of years ago. Many English gardeners use hand pruners for those manicured hedges. No electric or gas powered machinery for them.