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I am intrigued by the National Trust Gardens in the UK. It was with this desire, I requested this book from the library. It is a small book, with some photographs of the gardens and Sissinghurst castle in it. There is a small map of the garden too. What makes this book so special to me is that the author, Anne Scott-James wrote about Vita Sackville West and her husband as if they were in the room with her talking about their gardening and plans. The amount of research and information that the author presents to us about Sissinghurst is in the original way that Vita and Harold created Sissinghurst.
Sissinghurst was originally bought by the Sackvilles in 1930. It was an overgrown, tumbled down,garbage strewn small 7 acre plot. What it did have going for it was heritage; Vita was obsessed with her namesake and the fact that all inheritance was passed through males as she was denied her royal inheritances. She was determined to make Sissinghurst which was once part of her family's property and lands again important and beautiful. It was determined that it was an ancestral mansion, albeit crumbled.
Harold and Vita would come up on weekends and after two years, Vita and her two children moved there permanently. They would have help from a few gardeners and workmen. Other than that, every single plant, tree,flower, seed,order,thought, was discussed intensely between Harold and Vita.
Sissinghurst reminds some of Hidcote, but with a more romantic theme, and this is exactly how Vita and Harold saw it. As a 18th century castle with hidden gardens, overflowing with climbing roses and secret paths.
This book goes into how much money they squirreled away, what they had to do during the war era, how they lived and enjoyed their garden. The book goes on to describe the viewing of Sissinghurst, the best times of the year to see different parts, as each part of this garden was created to be beautiful in a season. Spring for instance, was relished in the Nuttery. The final chapters are filled with Vita and Harolds choices of plants, as both of these gardeners created voluminous garden journals, which were left to us to study and learn how to create fabulous gardens. Both the Sackvilles were goal driven and always finished a specific job in the garden with a follow up in the garden journals with a large written "DONE".
I felt reading this book, as if I were there, with Vita, her husband and sons, digging in the dirt, moving bushes and shrubs and roses, cleaning up a floor of rotted timbers. The life within this book is tangible. There are some of Vita's poems and thoughts included also, and her writings were garden driven.
This little book, of 150 pages is a treasure in my hands and heart. I intend on buying this book as soon as possible, "its a keeper".