More flowering plants climbing garden, some parts were too municipal in feel. Before the interview I sent a paper to the Trust setting out where some faults lay and what could be done about them.”
To the Trust’s credit, it accepted this critique and supports his plan. Certain proposed changes, such as getting rid of some of the hard paved paths and reinstating grass, or the removal of too-smart column bases, might be apparent even to the casual visitor. But most of his interventions involve the texture and tone of the planting, which he says had become rather stale – lupins in clumps of six repeated year on year, for example, and individual plants like foxgloves placed to look as if they had self-seeded.
“The garden did not feel as if it was breathing and alive,” Scott Smith says. “In Vita’s day, hedges were cut to have character and the borders were full to overflowing.” Indeed, Vita’s stated intention was to “cram, cram, cram”.
The irony is that the “Vita way” does not come naturally to him. He is a professionally trained gardener who likes everything to be just so. He has sympathy with his predecessors, who were working to a high level in a style in which they had been trained and with the encouragement and approval of higher-ups at the National Trust. It’s more a case that the garden style at Sissinghurst was a reflection of the times: it became a garden of connoisseurial