Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Wednesday, 2 July:Vita Sackville-West
I am currently listening to a tape reading of the charming collection of gardening articles by Vita Sackville-West, the English poet, gardener and novelist (1892-1962). Vita's life was colourful and bohemian: born to third baron of Sackville, she grew up at Knole Castle in Kent. Her childhood was unconventional; she was educated privately. Her otherwise distant father took her on long country walks and discussed science and Darwin. As a debutante she mixed with the Prince of Wales adorned with Cartier jewellery at Buckingham Palace. She married the diplomat, Harold Nicholson in 1913. After a stint in Contantinople they returned to England and eventually bought Sissinghurst Castle in 1930 in an almost derelict state. This is where Vita planted her famous white, grey and green garden. I have never been there - just read about it. She is, of course, also known for her love affair with the ill fated Virginial Woolf and her novel, Orlando.
The photo in side bar is of Nuttery at Sissinghurst, a wild copse of hazel trees that grow denser as spring turns to summer.
Living amongst the bright, bold, extravagant colours of southern African gardens, I admire the dedicated discipline of a gardener who could restrain herself to a colour scheme of mainly white.
Here is a poem by Vita. I echo her sentiments in the first few lines; not the rest!
- Days I enjoy
Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
and turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
The years are too strictly measured, and life too short
for me to afford such bits of myself to my friends.
And what have I to give my friends in the last resort?
An awkwardness, a shyness and a scrap
No thing that's truly me, a bootless waste,
A waste of myself and them for my life is mine
and theirs presumably theirs, and cannot touch.