I had forgotten about the photogenic Kentish oast houses. It's many years since I have been in that part of the world. Kent was famous for its hop fields. Once picked, the hops would be dried in these distinctively shaped buildings. These are the ones belonging to Sissinghurst.
Our tour of the gardens began at 5.30 pm, in the famous white garden. Sarah Raven and her husband, the aforementioned Adam Nicolson, each took a group and we were shown round the gardens and into a couple of the buildings which now comprise Sissinghurst. Adam spent his boyhood there. Lucky chap - it's a fabulous place!
The white garden is not at its best in September, but as the light was fading, the flowers which were in bloom, were glowing and beautiful.
The garden room which was at its best was the cottage garden. It was full of yellows, oranges and reds, and combined with the golden sunlight of late afternoon, was warm and wonderful.Here is Sarah Raven, trying to identify a rather weird fruit from the tree behind her. It had her foxed, and the rest of us!
We climbed to the top of the Elizabethan tower, where Adam gave us a potted history of Sissinghurst. The views across the Wealden countryside were amazing, and Adam told us that it is almost certain that Queen Elizabeth I would have stood there, during her three day stay at the castle in August 1573.
By eight o'clock it was time to leave the garden and go for dinner. It was nearly dark. It struck me that it was rather special to be rocking around the gardens at Sissinghurst at that time of day, when the public wouldn't normally be there!