At Sissinghurst Castle, the vegetal embodiment of an extraordinary love

By Clément Ghys

Posted today at 00h11

One number sums it all up. Twenty-seven of the UK’s 65 million people garden, according to a 2002 survey by an environmental research group at the University of Oxford. An online proportion – considering the age of gardeners – with that published last year by the Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics: 45% of Britons would have taken care of the garden to deal with confinement.

We could study, and some have done, the consequences of such a passion, analyze the emergence of the English garden in the 18th century.e century and compare it to the upheaval of the literature of the time, point out the major role of cultivated plots of land in the diet of the popular classes during the industrial revolution, have fun in front of the invasion of floral motifs in the interiors of the country, sometimes even bad taste.

But if there is a myriad of consequences, there is probably only one cause, rain. Thanks to her, the British territory is green, plants grow easily, extraordinary parks and gardens dot the kingdom. Another figure: the Horticultural Trades Association assures us that, every year, two thirds of British adults visit at least one garden.

Lilac deluge

Many go to Sissinghurst in Kent County, an area stretching from London to the English Channel. They marvel at the rose garden or the white garden, a deluge of lilacs, sagebrush and so many other immaculate varieties. In summer, they cool off in the avenue of lime trees, imagine the taste of apples from the orchard. Those who garden themselves dream of the place of the two founders, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Both were born at the end of the XIXe century, in aristocratic families.

“Everything is in perfect harmony, walking in the aisles, you realize the subtlety with which the places have been designed. »Jo Metson Scott, photographer

The misogyny of the inheritance laws of the day had kept Vita Sackville-West from the paradise of her childhood, Knole House, a Kent castle with a legendary park full of deer. She will be hurt for life. In 1913, she married Harold Nicolson, diplomat. The newlyweds have in common a taste for letters, the arts, and people of the same sex.

One of Vita’s lovers is novelist Virginia Woolf. She will send her more than 450 fiery letters and will be inspired by her for her novel. Orlando. The couple formed by Harold and Vita may have a few snags due to so many infidelities, it is a solid love, that one of their children, Nigel Nicolson, will describe gently in the book. Wedding portrait.

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