GBFD Foliage and structure at Sissinghurst Castle

It is hard to believe that a week ago today I was praying for the rain to hold off long enough to be able to fully enjoy my visit to Sissinghurst Castle.

The forecast subjected that if we visited as soon as the garden opened we might be lucky; I so wanted the American friends we were visiting with to see the garden at its best and not be miserable in heavy rain.  As it turned out we were very fortunate and the rain arrived very late in the day after a very interesting visit to Bodium Castle too!

So you’re thinking what has this to do with GBFD!  Well, when I think of Sissinghurst I think of flowers and especially roses but on this visit even though the garden was still full of colour my belief that foliage and structure are THE most important factors in a successful garden was reinforced by the beautifully clipped box and Yew.

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Beautifully clipped box

The White Garden, Sissinghurst, Beautifully clipped box

I’m not sure I am correct but I think the box hedging in the White Garden has been pruned differently; I need to find my old photographs to check.  Now the hedging seems narrower and taller which I thought looked much better and was probably initially done for safety reasons as before the hedges were shorter and wider, possibly a trip hazard now they make a definite statement and also I thought they were more elegant.  Do let me know if you think there has been a change or if it is just my imagination playing tricks on me.

The Yew alleys with focal points had also just been trimmed and were crisp and sharp creating wonderful shadows as hedging does in Italian gardens becoming an architectural feature and not just planting.

These long narrow spaces give a rest to the eyes from the intensely planted borders and create wonderful long views that stimulate exploration of the garden

These long narrow spaces give a rest to the eyes from the intensely planted borders and create wonderful long views that stimulate exploration of the garden

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I love that the spring walk is left almost empty as it would have been in Vita and Harold’s time; when each garden room had its moment of glory and would perhaps be left unvisited for the rest of the time – something that is not feasible today when thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the garden from all over the world and expect to see most of the garden looking perfect.  I have always coveted the pleached limes bordering the spring walk and am hoping to plant some myself this winter and create a little spring walk myself at the back of the garden.

Pleached limes in the Spring Walk, Sissinghurst

Pleached limes in the Spring Walk, Sissinghurst

The beds are ready for the mass planting of bulbs which will fill this space with colour all spring.

I am late posting today (I apologise) so I thank Pauline and Susie who have I know already posted for joining in.  Do add your own post about what foliage is interesting or stunning in your own garden this month.  Autumn tints are already beginning in some parts of the world; I especially love seeing those as we don’t really experience that here in Lazio.  Just leave a comment with your link and leave a link to this post in your post; I look forward to reading them all.

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37 thoughts on “GBFD Foliage and structure at Sissinghurst Castle

  1. Thanks for the views of Sissinghurst! You are fortunate to have this inspirational garden close enough for a visit that doesn’t involve a major financial and time commitment! The hedges are outstanding, and you know how much I agree with your statements on foliage.

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes. I’ll write more about all the lovely treats I had for my birthday as soon as time allows. I think the hedges looked particularly beautiful because they had just been cut. Thank you for joining in this month Pauline with the beginnings of some lovely autumn colour.

    • Thank you for your kind wishes. Gardens like Sissinghurst merit visits in almost every month to see what is happening. I think Vita had plants and areas that were interesting at all times of year but not every part all the time, which is a nice ting to do if you have the space. Thank you for joining in again this month.

  2. Christina, happy birthday. Sorry we couldn’t meet up at Sissinghurst but I am enjoying your photographs. Not usually a big fan of clipped yews but they do add a necessary element here. I just wish I had all that space to play with. Last night we had friends over and we were talking about how great it would be go go to Italy so perhaps we will meet you there some day.

    • Inside the formal layout, the planting is quite free. As a designer I appreciate form and structure more and more and could happily live with just ‘green’ in its many shades.

  3. Sissinghurst does have wonderful lines. I envy those pleached limes too; their simplicity and quietness was very restful, like you I’m glad that they hadn’t put in summer bedding or similar, leaving the walkway to rest for a few seasons without detracting in any way from its quiet beauty.

  4. What an amazing garden! I am so glad that the rain held out and your were able to enjoy your time! My are those Yews bold in their simplicity…they lead your eye straight down that gorgeous walk! Thank you for sharing this beauty!

  5. I have never visited Sissinghurst Castle and it is very interesting to see a formal garden. I feel a bit of a country bumpkin but I find the formality very severe. I suppose this can only be appreciated on a large format.

  6. hello Christina, I read your post yesterday morning but with no comments showing didn’t want to risk being first as my foliage post is quite small, thanks for your comment, here is a link though: http://islandthreads.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/back-to-gardening/

    also belated Birthday greetings, I am old as I’ve read your post again but see no mention of your Birthday until Susie’s comment, I’m glad you had a nice time doing something you love, are you too a virgo? an earth sign, look forward to hearing of your Birthday treats, Frances

    • Thanks for the link Donna, you include so much in your posts! and thanks for joining in again. There are so many wonderful gardens to visit in England do visit if you possibly can.

  7. Thanks for the post on Sissinghurst. I used to live in Kent and it was my all time favourite garden to visit. I’m in the process of trying to put in a Nuttery and now you’ve reminded me about the Spring Walk I may try to incorporate a mini version of my own too!

    • There is so much at Sissinghurst, you would love it and as a bonus Great Dixter is very close by, tow fabulous gardens in one afternoon (or one day if you look at every plant).

  8. There is so much at Sissinghurst that I should like to emulate: pleached limes, tall clipped yew, the nuttery (is it called?) and the ‘room’ structure. But the Priory owner isn’t keen on some of these. Your pleached avenue is a great idea – very jealous. D

  9. A belated ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’! What a great way to spend your birthday too. I know you love Sissinghurst. I always wish my birthday was at a different time of year. November isn’t a great month for garden visiting.

    I love the formal lines and mix of softer planting that is done so well at Sissinghurst. I would have liked a bit more planting in the white garden though, there was a bit too much bare soil for me. There are a few hints of leaves turning here. My blueberries are starting to look as if they are on fire.

    What did you think of Bodiam? We visited there about 10 years ago now and liked it. We’re lucky enough to have some amazing castles near us here in Wales.

    • Thank you for your kind wishes. Yes I love Sissinghurst along with quite a lot of other gardens……
      Bodium is what I call a proper castle, our American friends loved it and there were a few children who were so excited their eyes were glazed with wonder (my husband remembers being a bit like that as a child). Also there were some fabulous volunteers, dressed the part explaining various things, it really added to the enjoyment. They were so knowledgeable, but imparted it all in such an interesting and unassuming way.

  10. I must admit that I’ve grown fonder and fonder of foliage since reading the GBFD posts. It is the absolute backbone of the garden isn’t it and the leaf can be so beautiful in colour, shape and texture. My winter container garden is going to be far more foliage focused this year. I was so excited to read your post about Sissinghurst, I visited for the first time this year, back in June and despite thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it I absolutely adored it. I still have to write my post up believe it or not but I’m sure I’ll get round to it over the next couple of months.

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