On Sunday we went for a walk around the Sissinghurst castle gardens and surrounding estate. We go there now and then, as it’s fairly close to where we live, and it’s a great place to hang out for some fresh air and a fix of nature’s glories.
At the moment their is some work being done to parts of the buildings as well as the gardens, so if you haven’t got a National Trust card I’d recommend that you delay your visit until they’ve finished the maintenance, which is expected to be done in April, or at least until the garden is fully open, which will be from mid March onwards.
Apart from the castle gardens and the buildings within it, there’s a little shop, a restaurant, a vegetable garden and an orchard. Surrounding the castle gardens are fields with sheep and pigs, as well as forest areas and a couple of small lakes.
There’s also an oast house which is being used for (small) exhibitions. On our previous visit they were showing Bagpuss, Clangers & co, but that had now been replaced by the newly opened International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition. There were some truly stunning photographs there, and the gardeners had created some amazing displays using dried flowers and other plant parts, to decorate the rooms. As usual, Penguin walked through the exhibition at high pace, so there was no time to stand around contemplating the images… but I got hime to go around it twice, to give me a better chance to take it all in. When he was younger I would have been worried that he’d feel the need to touch e v e r y t h i n g. But that need seems to have decreased significantly lately, making this kind of event much less stressful than it used to be. Whether it’s a temporary change or permanent will be for time to tell.
We went on to have a quick look around the open parts of the garden, and it was lovely to see some early spring flowers. I’d like to teach Penguin more about flowers, but it’s not something he’s taken an interest in, yet. Hopefully I can get him involved in a bit of gardening soon, though he’d probably rather grow carrots than crocus.
We also had a look in the shop, which always has lots of lovely things in it; books, toys, knitwear, blankets, garden ornaments, ciders and other drinks, jams, sweets, cups and teapots etc. We didn’t buy anything though, as we’re on a pretty strict budget.
Penguin decided that we should head over to the vegetable garden and orchard next. I told him there probably wouldn’t be much growing there at this time of year, and there wasn’t, but we still had a look around and talked about soil, fertalisers etc. The only thing growing there at the moment was the rhubarb, some of which was covered with traditional terracotta forcers to limit photosynthesis and promote early growth.
We also had a look at a bug hotel which they’d put up in a corner of the vegetable garden, before we went back past the moat around the gardens, heading for the lakes in the forest areas.
This is probably our most favourite thing at Sissinghurst: A water feature of steps, where you can jump across the flowing water (and don’t worry, Daddy Penguin is right behind him there, to help if need be).
Penguin wasn’t very keen to leave those steps. I told him to take a picture of them so he could still look at them at home, until our next visit. So here’s his photo of them:
After a fairly long and very muddy walk through the forest, we got out into the field leading back up to the car park. There are usually sheep wandering about there, but this time it was empty. Just us and the big oak trees…
…and the mud 🙂
Heading back to the car, sweaty from the walk and the sun shining down, it really felt like spring, and Penguin even took his jacket off.
On the way home, we passed a couple of horses out for a ride. I hope we can take up riding with Penguin again soon. He used to go riding quite regularly when he was at pre-school, but the last couple of times we tried he wouldn’t accept wearing a helmet. It’s clearly a sensory thing, and we’ll have to work on that one… I think he would love to get back in the saddle!