We like to think we’re oh-so-liberated in the 21st Century! Nothing can phase us, we’re totally cool with all sorts of funky life styles. Our kids are almost encouraged to be gender fluid, it is all OK to be whatever you want! .. Just DON’T SMOKE, OR DO DRUGS, OR DRINK TOO MUCH, OR EAT TOO MANY BAD THINGS, OR SLEEP AROUND, OR DO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT FUCK YOUR KIDS UP, OR FAMILY, OR HUSBAND/WIFE/PARTNER… *waggles finger. In reality we live in such a tediously bland age. Everything seems like an effort, you have to pre-plan your day to ensure you’re not driving too fast, staying up too late, driving dangerously, not breaking the law, not being politically incorrect.. society has become so politically correct, it is undoing all political correctness. *sigh….
That’s the bit I did enjoy when we visited Sissinghurst Castle. The history there is all a little bit lefty, a disregard for societal norms hangs in the air and made me think of the days I explored my own sexuality, the lure of alternative living, the boldness of it all, the literature and art. Sad then, that one of Britain’s finest examples of female sexual liberation (Vita Sackville West) has been reduced to a National Trusted treasure. Her willfully lung’ed voice muffles out of shit speakers in the Tower leaving you bored of trying to decipher her legendary syntax.
Then there is the garden. The great Sissinghurst garden. The pinion of elegance, a thing of such billowing beauty that Cybele and Sappho and Aphrodite cried tears of yearning and lust at the sight of it.. probably… now, I know it’s the start of October, but, well, I couldn’t help but think that Vita Sackville West would be really fucking pissed if she saw the state of the place! I’m not talking about the maintenance, it was void of weeds, the hedges were razor sharp, the lawns were exceptional (considering the level of foot-fall they must receive), I’m talking about the actual flow and energy of the place. It is about as edgy and liberated as a tea-cup, in a lawn bowling club dishwasher.
I know this garden relies heavily on roses and again, it’s October, I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of those. I wasn’t expecting the level of COMPLETE control of everything though. Plants that have a tendency for sprawling have been pulled back, to keep them well within their given space, “You’re a Geranium, you grow to a width of about 30cm’s, so there you must stay”… Other plants that happily seed themselves have all been mopped up, the spaces in between plants (of which there are plenty), are weed-free and seed-free, borders are tended to within and inch of their lives… “and no more than an inch thank you”…
And the blobbiness! THE BLOBS! THE BLOBS! A blob of Salvia uliganosa here, a blob of some sort of Dahlia there, another blob of a Chrysanthemum, just for good measure, all blobs, like well mannered horticultural sheep. The displays that were meant, or at least should, blow you away were a bit dismal. The pleached Lime walk had a token handful of Chysanthemum thrown at it, like a half hearted attempt at putting some late season colour in, “that’ll do”. Again, the same with a double sided border of Zinnias, lanky and separated, regimented plants, the correct, RHS spacings between each, all leading to an awful attempt at Vita Sackville West’s passion.
My overwhelming feeling walking round the garden was one of “meh!”. I wanted to find someone to yell at, “Give me a go!!.. I was almost a Dyke!!… I want a go at the lady’s garden!”… . All of Sackville’s and indeed, Harold’s (her husband’s), embracement and celebration of mutual soul liberation, has been dumbed down, controlled in a very 21st Century way; by a committee.