“what incomparable lavishness they give…There is nothing scrimpy or stingy about them. They have a generosity which is desirable in plants as in people.”
Vita Sackville-West, on old roses
June is my favourite month. It feels like summer. The colours in the hedgerows have undergone a subtle shift from the lime-green of early spring, to the apple-green of late spring, and are taking on the racing green as the cow parsley subsides and leaves fill in the gaps overhead.
In the garden it is roses. And that is why I have come to Sissinghurst. I’m going to limit myself to the rose garden today, because otherwise the post will be way too long and the photos will take a year to download.
But just before we enter, I thought you might like to see the meadow in front of the Oast. It is awash with ox-eye daisies and buttercups and ragged robin.
And now onwards to the rose garden.
I love this blue gate. I have a picture of my daughter when she was much younger wearing a pink tutu and wellies standing in this gateway.
I have a special bond with this English rose, ‘Constance Spry’. She is the reason I garden. I bought a notebook whilst I was living in Australia with this very same rose on the cover (it was a National Trust notebook, and the picture credit is for ‘Constance Spry’ in the rose garden at Sissinghurst). It sparked an interest that has grown and grown…
Here is another gorgeous gate. And foxgloves.
I love the crumbling Elizabethan bricks at Sissinghurst. The curved ‘Powys Wall’ was a later addition and I think gave Vita and Harold conniptions. I can’t remember why. Where most of us argue with our partners about how to stack the dishwasher, Harold and Vita argued about angles and vistas.
I photographed this climbing fig at the start of the season when it was leafless. I do love its wiggles.
Foxgloves were the order of the day. I might even say that they trumped the roses. To be fair, the roses are only just getting going. These foxgloves were a couple of metres high. I love the arching of this foxglove, as if it is trying out being a rose.
Whilst I love irises, I don’t grow them. I feel it important to show some restraint. My rose problem means I can’t afford to develop an iris fetish.
This next rose is the moss rose, ‘Nuits de Young’. It is the darkest rose I know, quite small, and the stems and buds are covered in fragrant “moss”. I deliberated for ages about whether to include it in my own rose garden, and decided in the end to just enjoy it at Sissinghurst. It is the most bristly rose I know. It has a permanent five o’clock shadow.
I must confess, I am distracted. I have been obsessed by my own Rose Garden for the last few days. Maybe it is like when you have a baby and you go to the baby clinic and other babies look too bald or too hairy and you just love yours the best, regardless of it being more prone to colic and crying all night long. Could I have [gasp!] rose fatigue?
Oh, but hang on. This one is looking lovely. Panic over. My love is boundless.
I apologise for not getting the name of the fireworky tree in the next picture. It looks like an elongated buddleia tree, but I acknowledge it is unlikely to be called this.
Here are some peonies for Katie.
This is in the lower part of the rose garden. You can see the South Cottage in the next picture, with the climbing rose ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ climbing its walls. The rose in front of the hedge is ‘Ulrich Brunner’.
The rose in the picture below, ‘Kordes Magenta’ is a striking lilac-grey. It looks fabulous with the metallic Allium christophii.
I’m not sure what the rose below is. It wouldn’t do to scramble over the flowerbeds to read the label. This is the difference between your own and someone else’s garden. I know exactly how to navigate the hopscotch of plants in order to weed/deadhead/retrieve lost secateurs in my borders. And there’s only me to be cross if I misjudge it and flatten a geranium.
For a short stretch of its very chequered history, Sissinghurst was a Prisoner-of-war camp. You can believe it when you see this window.
The climbing roses on the wall below are ‘Albertine’ and ‘Paul’s Yellow Pillar’. The bed is very narrow so I could see the label.
I climbed the tower to get the next photo. I told myself “I am a natural at going up and down steep, winding stairs” (see Shelly Pruitt Johnson’s fabulous post about believing in your natural abilities). It worked. I positively skipped up and down with not a shred of hesitation. I wonder what other skills I can apply this to? Ballet? Opera? Hang-Gliding?
All good garden visits end with tea and cake. This is the view from the restaurant. I love the way Sissinghurst is getting eaten by meadows.
After this I could hear my own garden calling. So I scurried on home for some deadheading and a tiny bit of weeding.