Of all the places that can really inspire gardeners old and new it must be Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent. This eclectic garden, which was created by the eccentric Vita Sackville West, is a real mixture of ingenious planting and tried and tested gardening principles.

The castle itself was little more than an derelict pile when acquired by the world famous authoress and her husband Harold Nicolson in 1930. From raw beginnings the couple set about creating one of the loveliest gardens in England. The design itself is formal but the planting is often loose and free with many plants growing into or through each other. There is a main axis which is a narrow walk between high yew hedges and it cuts across the the length of the site, widening into a rondel.

The walk itself leads the visitor into small densly planted enclosures, reminiscent of Elizabethan gardens. Probably most famous is the White Garden which is planted with silver leaved and white-flowered plants. Other features are the tower, a spring walk and the fabulous semi-walled rose garden, which is filled with a profusion of old fashioned roses that scent the air with beautiful perfumes, and the yellow, red and orange Sunset or Cottage garden where you can sit on a wooden bench and relax to the soothing sound of bees and birds.

Sissinghurst which is now owned by the National Trust is open from March to October but be aware that this highly popular garden can become very busy, especially in summer, so be prepared to queue to go in. For more information on this horticultural mecca go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst