Paris & London/Chelsea Flower Show
May 17-26, 2008 Tour

May 25, Day 9.

Our final day of sightseeing took us to two very important and very different gardens.

Great Dixter is a charming 15th century timber-framed manor house set in one of the most beautiful gardens in England. A passing glance at this inspiring, romantic country house might give the impression that this has been a grand, rambling manor since medieval times, but all is not quite how it appears to be. Formerly known as just 'Dixter', the greatness alluded to in its present title is more than a clue to the amazing transformation that the original 15th century hall house underwent in the early years of the last century. Almost from the time the first house was completed in the 1450s, it saw a succession of different owners and tenants, and probably experienced many periods of vacancy and neglect.

Completing the whole picture was an important aspect of Lutyen's designs, and once the residential part of the scheme had taken shape he concentrated on the layout of the gardens, cleverly incorporating the original outbuildings to knit all the elements together. Now well established these fabulous gardens are a delight throughout the seasons and remain a constant source of pleasure. Sadly Christopher Lloyd passed away a few years ago but his head gardener is at the helm and the gardens are looking great. It has now been taken over by a trust fund I believe.

In the afternoon, we visited Sissinghurst Gardens, one of the world's most celebrated gardens, the creation of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson. I cannot tell you now many times I have visited this garden and it just keeps getting better and better.

Situated in the Weald of Kent is Sissinghurst Castle, once a grand Elizabethan Manor House, now sadly only a fraction of its former size, but still surrounded by beautiful countryside. As Kent is so often referred to as 'the Garden of England', Sissinghurst is as equally renowed for its splendid gardens. The history of Sissinghurst Castle has always been very closely linked to the soil, and it was originally a medieval manor-farm.
Originally the land was owned by the De Saxingherstes, but by the middle of the 13th century the family line had come to an end. However, the Manor had established itself as being of local importance. Formerly moated - although only three sides still exist, two containing water and one side having been slightly raised to provide a grass walk - the house was sufficiently large and comfortable enough for King Edward I to stay during the 14th century, probably with the De Berham family. They owned Sissinghurst Castle for more than 200 years, until Henry de Berham decided to move to another manor, and sold his home to Thomas Baker.

After the large Victorian farmhouse was built in 1855, Sissinghurst Castle once again went up for sale in 1928. It was to stay on the market for two years before Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson, bought it for their home. She re-opened the entrance archway, now no longer needing to be blocked as a prison, but made few changes to the remaining buildings, other than carrying out some careful restoration. Both V.Sackville-West and her husband, however, completely transformed the grounds and, when they both died, they were content in the knowledge that they had succeeded in creating at Sissinghurst probably the most famous gardens in England.

We returned to London in the early evening, got some packing done and then we all met for our Farewell Dinner at the hotel.

May 26, Day 10.

After breakfast, we all made our way home with some incredible memories and new friends. Please make sure you visit  to see the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show Tour featuring one hotel only and the best of the best in English Gardens.




  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row