It just so happens that both Sissinghurst and Great Dixter are within half an hour’s drive of home, but even so I don’t go to either often enough. This week I have been to both and saw them in their full autumn glory.
On Saturday we were invited to an RSPB fundraising dinner at Sissinghurst to raise money for the unglamorous (but absolutely essential) task of eradicating rats from the Shiant Islands (north of Skye) to save the populations of seabirds that nest there. Before dinner we had an hour to roam around the gardens in the fading light. It is a huge privilege to see Sissinghurst without being surrounded by crowds and it was looking as good as ever under the stewardship of the new head gardener Troy Scott Smith.Then yesterday afternoon when the weather was perfect – hot and still with a cloudless blue sky – we drove over to Great Dixter arriving at 4.45pm (last entry is 5pm) and pretty well had the garden to ourselves for an hour. Not only did we avoid most of the visitors, but in the low early evening light everything was most beautifully illuminated – it was utterly magical. There are two events coming up at Dixter that you may like to attend. This coming weekend (5th & 6th October) it’s the Dixter Plant Fair with some of the finest nurseries from the UK and Europe selling a brilliant selection of plants.
If you have a famous garden near you, the late afternoon strategy is worth trying – usually the coaches have departed – as have the non-local visitors.