The Oak and the Holly

At the moment I am reading a book called Sissinghurst an unfinished history by Adam Nicholson, who is the  grandson of Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson, who made the garden at Sissinghurst.


I have visited Sissinghurst castle garden  a few times and on my last visit picked up this book, it is very interesting and has some great insights into the countryside.


 Adam’s father taught him a lot about the countryside, here is an excerpt from the book.

As children we were always taught that you must try to sympathise with the spiky and the spiny, to understand what it was that did not allow them to open, displaying elegance of the beech or the confidence of the oak. Why are thorns so bitter? What can be the point, in such a calm English wood, of such unfriendliness? You feel like asking them to relax, even if the relaxation is not in their nature. But everywhere in the woods at Sissinghurst there is one repeated clue to this foundation-level exercise in tree psychology.

At the foot of almost every oak there is at least one holy nestling in the shade. Why? Why is the spiky holly drawn to the oak? What sort of symbiosis is this? But the question, it turns out, may be the wrong way round.


Why does the oak live with the holly? Because the holly, when they were both young looked after the oak. Its spiky evergreen leaves protected the young acorn seedling from the browsing lips of the ever-hungry deer. The oak had a holly nurse, and only after a while did the young tree outstrip the protector that now shelters in the shade.

I am looking forward to learning more.





Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Vita Sackville West and her husband certainly made Sissinghurst Castle Gardens a beautiful place to visit, I would love to visit again when the gardens are in full bloom.

The garden rooms are beautiful and if you are a book lover you will be in for a real treat if you visit.

Reading the notes below you will see who was really in charge of the garden!















Ightham Mote

Ightham Mote in Kent is well worth a visit, the last owner was a man called Charles Henry Robinson who was a direct descendant of a pilgrim who travelled to New England on the Mayflower, if it wasn’t for him buying it then it may now be a pile of rubble.

A very romantic looking place, hidden in a hollow and surrounded by a man made mote fed by a natural spring.

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I visited Chartwell some 18 years ago and felt the need to go back, all the 50th aniversary news of Winston Churchills death in the media reminded me how much I like Kent as a county.

It was a freezing cold day but I was not disappointed, the house although not grand given the importance of Churchill was welcoming and friendly, with lots of great recent history.


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