Lime Walk

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - In The News -

Ar­ti­fi­cial weath­er­ing of the re­cently re­placed pots. Grad­ual re­duc­tion of cro­cus to al­low more com­plex­ity.

To come within the gar­den­ers’ do­main, so that visi­tors have a sense they have ar­rived at a spe­cial place from the mo­ment they park their cars.

herba­ceous-peren­nial hor­ti­cul­ture in the style of Great Dix­ter or Beth Chatto’s gar­den, high wa­ter marks in the Eight­ies and Nineties.

But Scott Smith says that this pro­fes­sional dis­tance works to his and the gar­den’s ad­van­tage, be­cause Siss­inghurst “de­mands an in­tel­lec­tual as well as an in­tu­itive ap­proach. We have to be able to ar­tic­u­late what we are do­ing to the team and the public”.

In sup­port of this, I have a the­ory that an aw­ful lot of fe­male gar­den­ers of a cer­tain age sub­con­sciously want to “be” Vita Sackville-West. Siss­inghurst plays on all kinds of fan­tasies, not least those bound up with so­cial class. This is patently ridicu­lous for some­one like Scott Smith, mar­ried with two chil­dren and sport­ing de­signer stub­ble. His pro­fes­sion­al­ism ar­guably cre­ates a stronger sense in­tel­lec­tual de­tach­ment and fo­cus for the task.

There is much work still at be done at Siss­inghurst. The open­ing salvo of the gar­den, the Top Court­yard, in par­tic­u­lar still ex­hibits a cer­tain stiff­ness. But Scott Smith is de­lib­er­ately mov­ing slowly and care­fully, aware that you can­not rush a trans­for­ma­tion such as this.

Gar­den de­signer Dan Pear­son is now work­ing along­side him as a con­sul­tant, vis­it­ing a few times a year and act­ing as a sound­ing board and col­lab­o­ra­tor. The pro­posed vi­sion will emerge over a pe­riod of at least a decade, though al­ready the changes are de­ci­sively af­fect­ing the at­mos­phere. For ex­am­ple, Scott Smith has in­creased the rose con­tent of the gar­den by 40 per cent, and there are many other ex­plicit changes in the off­ing (see box).

At risk of in­spir­ing another greenink let­ter, may I sug­gest that some­thing of Vita is fi­nally be­ing brought back to Siss­inghurst?

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