Sissinghurst: Vita-Sackville West and the Creation of a Garden

Vita Sackville-West and Sarah Raven. St. Martin’s, $34.99 (382p) ISBN 978-1-250-06005-1
Novelist Sackville-West (1892–1962) was also a gardener and wrote brilliantly on horticulture. To pair contemporary garden writing with Sackville-West’s classic sparklers takes confidence, experience, and audacity. Happily, Raven (The Cutting Garden), another gardener in the Sackville-West family (she’s married to Vita’s grandson), meets every challenge in this laudable book. Sackville-West’s plantings complemented the designs of her husband, Harold Nicholson, who wanted to revitalize Sissinghurst, a “ruined Elizabethan hunting palace... in the pretty wooded part of the Kentish Weald.” Both women address “The People and the Place,” touchstones in Sissinghurst’s design; both also consider the big picture in “Vita’s Garden Themes,” which explains Sackville-West’s “cram-cram” planting, and in “The Smaller Canvas,” which covers cut flowers, container plants, and even garden “jokes” and Christmas plants. The book is crammed with photos and quotes (from Sackville-West: “A flowerless room is a soul-less room...”). The two voices remain distinct without clashing, and Raven’s organization of the book and selections from Sackville-West’s work buttress her own canny observations. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014
Release date: 11/04/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 386 pages - 978-1-4668-6598-3
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