A vivid early childhood memory is of  visiting Sissinghurst Castle Garden in the early1960’s after Vita Sackville-West had died but before the National Trust took it over.  In those days, we left a shilling in a wooden bowl just under the entrance arch and there was hardly another soul in sight.  The vivid colours of the flowers on a sun-filled afternoon in high summer, playing hide and seek with my sister in the long, dark pathways between the high walls of yew hedges, emerging into the dazzling brightness of the different garden ‘rooms’.  My grandfather had a background in gardening having been trained after leaving a Catholic orphanage in Yorkshire.  The memory of his glorious clematis and roses and the smell inside the hot greenhouse filled with tomato plants and pelargoniums stay with me.

My passion for plants, beautiful gardens and local history has continued to grow over the years. Having lived in the USA and visited many wonderful gardens around the world, it was a joy to return home 25 years ago to Sussex and begin developing my own gardens.  Whilst studying garden design and horticulture with the RHS, I started to take visitors, mainly from the USA,  on tours to see gardens – private and public.  Over the next 10 years,  I had the privilege of meeting fellow garden enthusiasts from all over the world, sharing our enthusiasm and our own growing experiences.

Through the Discover Gardens website and facebook page, I shall be sharing information  and photographs about all things gardens – whether edgy and unusual, or simply beautiful.


Kathryn Van Howe

Discover Gardens – January 2018