LILIES AND SISSINGHURST


Sissinghurst, in southeast England, is one of the gardens I hope to visit before I am too decrepit. For the moment, reading Adam Nicolson’s SISSINGHURST: AN UNFINISHED HISTORY is as close as I can get  to the the cluster of Elizabethan buildings the author’s paternal grandmother, poet and gardening writer Vita Sackville-West bought in 1936. The garden she made there is  series of green rooms–spaces defined by green hedges–filled with monochromatic collections of flowering plants. Its white garden has  inspired  many American gardeners, including  Barbara Damrosch whose plan for a moon garden  THEME GARDENS is clearly influence by the the one in Sissinghurst.
There is among my s gardening books a gorgeously illustrated compilation of gardening columns  Vita Sack-West wrote for The Observer.  Few of her recommendations apply to my  humid, bug and deer infested West Virginia garden. I read them with pleasure nevertheless and I dream of buying the available land around my house until I realize that it would take and a huge staff to tidy up the jungly grounds. As it is, mowing,, watering–I use gray water–and perfunctory weeding are all I can manage.   I would not know what to do with an English castle and a formal garden except what Adam Nicolson’s father did–he donated it to the National Trust.
Nicolson’s book, for which I wrote am uttterly unsatisfactory review–see www.richtexts.blogspot.com— is  about his effort to return  the Sissinghurst farm to organic gardening. He loves the land, he knows its history and  geology and he obviously cares about it deeply. He tells the story of the place  with grace with which his grandparents gardened. The result is a richly entertaining book in which the author imparts information about history, economics and social change in an eminently readable style.
In my garden, such as it is, it is lily season. The few bulbs the voles  missed during their endless bacchanialia, are in bloom. None of the two collections of daylilies from White Flower farm survived. None of the collections of Oriental bulbs–dozens of them–made it. The dozens of Csablanca lilies planted in flowers beds, perished. But a few daylilies, a  pink trumpet I dislike intensely  and potted Casablanca lilies persist. The deer nibble the blossoms of pink trumpet, but they  avoid a few of the specialty daylilies planted near a clump of lavender.   Perhaps a huge lavender hedge would keep them away from flowers and veggies. I think I will apply to the National Trust. I wonder if they would consider taking over a log house built twenty five years ago.

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