Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets – 20th Century episode 4: Here, he reveals how Sissinghurst in Kent was one of the first lifestyle gardens, made up of different ‘rooms’. He explores Britain’s great gardens.
Alan Titchmarsh presents a stunning series that reveals the amazing secrets behind Britain’s great gardens, examining how they continue to influence gardeners, including himself, today. He reveals how Sissinghurst gardens in Kent is one of the most influential of the 20th century. Created by two passionate gardeners, Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Sir Harold Nicholson, its development coincided with key social changes in the British garden.
There was a pre- and post-war boom in surburban housing, creating a generation of domestic gardeners. Despite its size, Sissinghurst appealed to the public because it was a warm and intimate garden and had been designed with a great many practical uses. Alan reveals that it was one of the first lifestyle gardens, made up of different ‘rooms’ designed for eating, relaxing and entertaining. Ideas that would lead to today’s barbecue areas and day-bed chillout zones in the garden began here.
Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets – 20th Century episode 4
Alan shows his own take on the garden room, designing an outdoor dining table filled with herb and fruit plants. Vita Sackville West was also hugely influential in her use of colour. She used many colours to create a single hue and Alan reveals the myriad of colours in her famous purple border. She was also the first to create an all-white garden.
Sissinghurst is also famous for its naturalistic planting and Alan discusses how it works with head gardener Alexis Data. He also shows us how to create a wild flower meadow. And finally we learn that one part of Sissinghurst, the nuttery, would become famous as one of the first wild gardens. This new philosophy would ultimately lead to today’s permaculture gardens. Alan shows you how to create one in your own garden.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, at Sissinghurst in the Weald of Kent in England, was created by Vita Sackville-West, poet and writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. It is among the most famous gardens in England and is designated Grade I on Historic England’s register of historic parks and gardens.
It was bought by Sackville-West in 1930, and over the next thirty years, working with, and later succeeded by, a series of notable head gardeners, she and Nicolson transformed a farmstead of “squalor and slovenly disorder” into one of the world’s most influential gardens. Following Sackville-West’s death in 1962, the estate was donated to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. It is one of the Trust’s most popular properties, with nearly 200,000 visitors in 2017.
The gardens contain an internationally respected plant collection, particularly the assemblage of old garden roses. The writer Anne Scott-James considered the roses at Sissinghurst to be “one of the finest collections in the world”. A number of plants propagated in the gardens bear names related to people connected with Sissinghurst or the name of the garden itself.
The garden design is based on axial walks that open onto enclosed gardens, termed “garden rooms”, one of the earliest examples of this gardening style. Among the individual “garden rooms”, the White Garden has been particularly influential, with the horticulturalist Tony Lord describing it as “the most ambitious … of its time, the most entrancing of its type.