“What incomparable lavishness…”

“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.

Oast House and meadow

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.


Here is another gorgeous gate.  And foxgloves.

Foxgloves and gate.

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 do love the wiggles of the climbing fig.


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.

Foxgloves in the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst

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.

Unknown iris. I’m not very good on irises. This one smelt nice.

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.

Moss rose ‘Nuits de Young’

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.

More foxgloves, some anchusa, and rose, possibly ‘Eglantine’.
Can you see the statue? (Where’s Wally? Sissinghurst style)

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.


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.

Rosa ‘Kordes Magenta’ with 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.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

47 Comments Add yours

  1. Nat says:

    Oh my goodness. Isn’t it beautiful. The buildings are almost as lovely as the plants (almost). Try as we might us Western Australians will never have something like that. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Ali says:

      The buildings do make it, don’t they? Which I guess is what Vita could see when she decided to make a garden there. It is very much of its place. I think you have to work with the landscape and the character of you local architecture.

  2. seraphsun says:

    The crumbling bricks are what makes the garden even more enchanting. Love this garden! And the foxgloves are really lovely!

    1. Ali says:

      The walls and gates and vistas are sublime.

  3. Emma Cownie says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely the house and the gardens.

  4. pommepal says:

    So very English and just superb slice of history. I know that feeling how visiting other gardens can be so inspiring you can’t wait to get back home and dig your fingers into your own bit of dirt

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. That’s a good garden visit, isn’t it? One that invigorates and excites.

  5. Love this post, especially the overview photo you took from the tower. How I’d love to visit Sissinghurst someday.

    1. Ali says:

      The views from the tower never fail to impress.

  6. sgeoil says:

    Wow, beautiful. I wish we had gardens like that to visit here. So inspirational! I’ll just have to continue to be inspired by your posts.

  7. bcparkison says:

    I can only dream of an English garden tour. .Beautiful.

  8. Heyjude says:

    I am beginning to think that I need another holiday in Kent. You are giving me garden envy and Sissinghurst does look very beautiful (after the coaches leave). After visiting several gardens over a few days I think you can get ‘flower fatigue’. Best to pace yourself 😀

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. It’s similar when I visit art galleries. I definitely need to rest my eyes after an hour.

  9. Just gorgeous. I can almost smell those roses – and with the foxgloves and iris and peonies it is the perfect English summer garden.

    1. Ali says:

      It is a very special place.

    2. Ali says:

      By the way, would love to see a Charleston update soon!

      1. Next week hopefully – half term etc has got in the way!

  10. jennavive72 says:

    Looks like you had a very relaxing afternoon! Lovely pics!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. I can’t help but wallow in relaxation there.

  11. I’ve been wanting to revisit Sissinghurst after many years, but have been put off by talk of overcrowding. Yet there’s hardly anyone there in your lovely photos! Any tips on a good time of day to visit?

    1. Ali says:

      Go midweek if you can, and about 3pm is a good time. It just depends if a coach trip turns up, but I would say they are more likely earlier in the day.

      1. Thank you – good advice and I plan to follow it!

  12. Simply stunning! I have enjoyed learning about your and Sissinghurst’s gardens! Some day I will be back to visit the U.K. and this place is definitely going to be part of this future trip!

    1. Ali says:

      Fab. Shout when you do!

  13. Chloris says:

    I love Sissinghurst in June, the rose garden first inspired my love of old roses. For years I copied the idea of training them over hazel benders. It is time consuming though and I never seem to find the time these days. Thanks for the lovely photos.
    The Buddleja is Buddleja alternifolia.

    1. Ali says:

      I knew I could rely on you, Chloris! 😘

  14. Love this. The brick building pictures are gorgeous, and I am so honored by the mention. That phrase, “You’re a natural” has been helping me so much in so many areas. I am so glad it is good for you, too!

    1. Ali says:

      It is a wonderful little saying. It makes you embrace and enjoy so many things you might not do otherwise.

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    The gardens are a wonderful jumble of plants. I love these posts!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I love the tumbling chaos of it all.

  16. Cathy says:

    I still haven’t found the perfect rose for me, but it is lovely seeing yours and the ones at Sissinghurst. That tree must be Buddleia alternifolia. It is a fine old one – Inhave never seen such a large one. Mine is still fairly young but they grow rapidly. I am trying to keep mine from getting too tall by pruning it drastically after it flowers each year. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Cathy! There is so much expertise here – I love it!

  17. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Definitely worth climbing to the top of the tower to get that garden overview. I would have done it too, tho’ I doubt that I would have skipped.

    1. Ali says:

      I do remember once doing it at a run and my legs going decidedly wobbly!

    1. Ali says:

      They are lovely, aren’t they?

  18. Clare Pooley says:

    I had a good laugh at your likening rose fatigue to baby clinic visits! Two houses ago we had some lovely brick outbuildings and someone had planted ‘Albertine’ next to them. My husband refused to go anywhere near it because of the thorns so I took it over and tidied it and loved it despite the stabbings. I love that rose! The scent on June evenings and the beauty of the petals! I would love to have another ‘Albertine’ but have nowhere to put it.

    1. Ali says:

      Troy Scott Smith, the Head Gardener at Sissinghurst was singing the praises of ‘Albertine’ in his Sissinghurst notes. It’s not one that I’ve grown, but will pay it more attention at Siss now!

      1. Clare Pooley says:

        Please do and let me know what you think. 🙂

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