Potting on seeds in the greenhouses © Ed Church

Potting on seeds in the greenhouses

Going potty in the glasshouses

Winter is a fantastic time of year in the nursery. It may be cold and wet outside, but in the potting shed and the glasshouses one of the tasks is being undertaken – seed sowing.

This year, over 400 different species and varieties will be propagated from seed. After potting on they will be delivered to the garden shop in time for the new season.

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden in June © Jonathan Buckley

The Rose Garden in June

Vita envisaged the Rose Garden as a 'tumble of roses and honeysuckle, figs and vines'. Whereas Harold's keenness for strict geometry is evident in the circular shaped hedge, or Rondel, at the west end of the garden.

The White Garden

Rosa muliganii in the White Garden © Jonathan Buckley

Rosa muliganii in the White Garden

Until 1950, the White Garden had been filled with roses but as they outgrew their space they were transferred to what was to become the Rose Garden.

When planning the garden, Harold found some white gladioli, white irises, white pompom dahlias and the white Japanese anemones, which he and Vita both loved.

The South Cottage Garden

Vita's kaleidoscope planting in the South Cottage Garden © Jonathan Buckley

Vita's kaleidoscope planting in the South Cottage Garden

Warm reds and gold mark out the South Cottage Garden, which is a riot of colour in late summer and autumn.

Against the wall of the South Cottage, the early-summer-flowering rose Mme Alfred Carriere was the first thing that Vita and Harold planted at Sissinghurst, on the day their offer to buy was accepted.

The Herb Garden

The aromatic Herb Garden © Jonathan Buckley

The aromatic Herb Garden

Set beyond the Nuttery, the Herb Garden looks and smells wonderful.

As Adam Nicolson, Vita and Harold's grandson says: 'Only the beautiful, the pungent and the elegant are allowed here'.

The Nuttery

Unusual trilliums and fritillarias are on show in the Nuttery © Jonathan Buckley

Unusual trilliums and fritillarias are on show in the Nuttery

Kentish cobnuts, a variety of hazelnut, create a shady haven for birds and visitors alike in the Nuttery.

In April 1930, Harold recorded in his diary the moment he and Vita decided to buy Sissinghurst - 'We came suddenly upon the nutwalk', he wrote, 'and that settled it'.

The Lime Walk

The Lime Walk in spring © Sally Mackenzie

The Lime Walk in spring

Also known as the Spring Garden, this is one area where Harold controlled the design and planting. Long beds of tulips, fritillaries and hyacinths are marked out by an avenue of pleached limes, punctuated by generous terracotta pots, every inch bursting with colour for about four weeks.


Scilla messeniaca and hellebores in Delos © Sally Mackenzie

Scilla messeniaca and hellebores in Delos

Named after the Greek island of Delos, this part of the garden is rather damp and shady, not at all like its name suggests.

Early spring sees this garden become a carpet of colour: pink chinodoxias, scillas and white anemones, looked over proudly by a Magnolia salicifolia and a big, bold mauve rhododendron.

The Moat Walk

The Moat Walk in flower © Matt Jackson

The Moat Walk in flower

The Moat Walk is defined on one side by the remains of an Elizabethan wall, and on the other by a bank of bright yellow azaleas. These were planted in 1946 by Vita with £100 she won from the Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Prize for her poem The Garden.

The Orchard

The Orchard in spring © Jonathan Buckley

The Orchard in spring

Vita and Harold always intended the Orchard to be half garden, half wilderness. Roses were planted against the boughs of old apple trees, with winding paths mown in long grasses.

Bees make use of the apple blossom and make honey in the hives. The gazebo was built in 1969 in memory of Harold Nicolson.

The Purple Border

The Purple Border © Jonathan Buckley

The Purple Border

The Purple Border is not made up of purple plants alone. One of our gardeners says, 'Not much of it is purple. It's a clever mix of pink, blues, lilacs and purples.'

Roses are planted in the border; beauties such as 'Charles de Mills' and Rosa 'Geranium' along with hazel brushwood help to keep the plants upright.