This February, we celebrate LGBT+ identities and how they have helped shape our world. Throughout the month we will be posting histories of LGBT+ people who have made contributions to the field of botany, horticulture, garden design and botanical art. If you would like to see the original posts about the individuals below, please check out @BotanicsPride on Twitter. If you’re interested in helping out as we start to plan for Pride 2021, we would be delighted to hear from you! Please contact the Botanics RBGE Pride group for more info. Happy #LGBTHistoryMonth

Vita Sackville West…

lived from 1892–1962. An accomplished writer, Vita is also best remembered for her beautiful garden design at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. Vita’s planting work and romantic vision helped create what is now regarded as a masterpiece of modern, British garden design. Vita also wrote a weekly gardening column for The Observer and helped found the National Trust’s garden committee. Vita wrote about her life as a bisexual woman; attempting to run away with the woman she loved multiple times. 

She went against the traditional conventions of the time. Speaking of her relationships with women and men in her memoir, she wrote that in the future she believed ‘it will be recognised that many more people of my type do exist than under than the present-day system of hypocrisy is commonly admitted’. The single-toned ‘White Garden’ in Sissinghurst best demonstrates Vita’s understanding of texture, shape and form with the use of plants like Stachys lanata, white pansies, peonies and irises.

Photograph of Vita Sackville West
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-14916