A visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent a few days ago provided plenty of inspiration - and some interesting plants from the shop there. The famous White Garden, developed by Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson around the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion was looking spectacular, even though some of the roses had finished blooming. The National Trust, which owns the property, has just opened the Priest's House (left) as a 6-bed holiday cottage. Windows look out onto the White Garden, and guests can wander through the gardens in the evening, when other visitors have left.
But what really caught my eye were the hazel hoops set into the ground around some of the rose bushes. What were they for? Alexis Datta, Sissinghurst's Head Gardener, was on hand to explain - apparently bending the stems down over the hoops puts pressure on the plants and makes them produce more flowers. It also provides different heights and shapes in the rose garden.
Sissinghurst Castle is off the A262 in Kent, near the village of Cranbrook. Postcode is TN17 2AB.
More details at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst
National Trust holiday lets: http://www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk/
(All profits from lettings go towards funding the Trust's conservation work.)