One of my most vivid early childhood memories is 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.  Childhood memories of his glorious clematis and roses and the smell inside the hot greenhouse filled with tomato plants and pelargoniums stay with me.

I believe it was from those early experiences that the seed was sown – 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 pleasure to return home 25 years ago to Sussex and to Kent, where I grew up.  Developing my own gardens, informed by courses in Garden Design and  RHS Horticulture course, I decided to “grow” Discover Gardens so that I could share my knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors from around the world.

Garden visiting is such a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas for our own gardening projects, particularly when you can meet and talk to owners/gardeners and share ideas and knowledge.

I hope you can join me this summer!


Kathryn Van Howe

Discover Gardens