Virginia Woolf

A Botanical Perspective

Presented by the Botanic Garden of Smith College

Knole and Sissinghurst
Knole, ancestral home of the Sackvilles, where Vita Sackville-West was born. Woolf used it as the setting for her novel Orlando, whose main character is based on Vita Sackville-West.
Knole. Photograph by Karen Kukil

Vita Sackville-West was one of the best-known English gardeners and garden-writers of her time. Her garden at Sissinghurst was a masterpiece. To Vita, her work in the garden was linked to her work as a poet for she saw both as an exercise in creativity. She believed a beautiful garden was the appropriate response to war. Virginia and Vita became intimate friends and, for a time, lovers. Virginia dedicated her novel Orlando to Vita. The Hogarth Press published several of Vita Sackville-West's novels and when Vita and her husband, Harold Nicolson, bought Sissinghurst, Leonard and Virginia gave them the old Hogarth printing press as a housewarming gift.

Sissinghurst photographs by Dave Parker
The cottage garden with a view of Sissinghurst tower.
View from Vita's tower at Sissinghurst.
The purple border at Sissinghurst.
The herb garden at Sissinghurst.
The rose garden at Sissinghurst.
© 2003 Botanic Garden of Smith College