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?