Saturday, October 5, 2013

Modernizing an English Garden; New York Times, 10/4/13

Adam Nicolson, New York Times; Modernizing an English Garden: "The National Trust accepted Sissinghurst in 1967, and my father entered the last decades of his life secure in the idea that he had done the right thing. He was known as the Resident Donor and presided happily over the place as it boomed with the tourist revolution over the next three decades. He became a sort of constitutional monarch: advising and consulting. He built himself a little writing room in the garden, where visitors would find him charmingly and delightfully welcoming. His part-skeptical children used to call it the Resident Donor Display Cabinet. He was a caretaker, spending his days as the protector of his parents’ creation. When he fell ill in 2004, my wife, Sarah, and I and our two daughters, Rosie and Molly, left our own farmhouse and went back to live at Sissinghurst. And when he died later that year, we stayed on, largely, I think, out of a sense of duty to this strange unowned inheritance, a mere tenancy at a place everything encouraged us to think of as ours. It did not go well. The new setup was something of a shock. We had moved into a museum: our dogs not allowed in the garden, being shouted at by gardeners if they did wander in; our children not allowed near the greenhouses; our cars to be parked in exactly prealigned ways; instructions that we were not to have parties on the weekends; that any photograph we took inside or outside the house was to be the copyright of the National Trust — I said no to the most invasive of these requests — and so on."

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