Thursday, July 30, 2009

Candidate's World Tour - Third Leg

Left Basingstoke quite early on the third day of the Candidate's break - but did not leave England. Left golf also and set off to visit two of the great gardens of England. First up was Great Dixter, associated with the world renowned gardener, Christopher Lloyd, who died in 2006, having lived there throughout his 84 years. The garden is now run by a charitable trust, and is much as I expected it to be from having seen Christopher Lloyd being filmed at work in it on television. First impression is that its an untidy garden - but that's probably me. I'm not keen on plants being packed in or flopping all over the place (as they so often do in nature). But after an hour's exploration, the overall effect is satisfying. Its an odd mixture, a garden without rules, which is exactly what's intended. A general appearance of chaos, with clashing colours and plants left to grow where birds deposit their droppings. Great Dixter is a garden without inhibitions. We did not have time to do the house, which had been designed by Edwin Lutyans.

And then it was on to nearby Sissinghurst Castle Garden, managed by the National Trust. Spent some time in the exhibition, learning about its history. A settlement was recorded on this site in the 12th century, and a very grand manor house was built in the middle ages - surrounded by a moat (which is perhaps why it came to be thought a suitable home for a Conservative MP in the 20th century). The manor house was used as a prison during the Seven Years War, and became known as a 'Castle', because the French inmates thought it looked like a 'chateau'. In 1928, the dilapidated property was purchased by the writer, Vita Sackville West and her husband, the Conservative MP and diarist, Harold Nicholson. Together they created the Sissinghurst which attracts so many visitors that numbers have to be controlled. A really lovely garden, though the famous White Garden was nothing to write home about. Grandson and writer, Adam Nicholson, still lives at Sissinghurst with his wife, Sarah Raven, who writes for the Telegraph (amongst so much else).

Our visit was accompanied by a thunderstorm. The heavy sky added atmosphere to the view of the garden from the top of a folly tower, which was reached by a circular staircase of around 100 steps. Sissinghurst warrants several hours to fully appreciate, but we had just two. And then we were away to find 'Disgusted' who reportedly lives at Tunbridge Wells.

No comments: