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DSC05092(ok so its not a slug but a snail ! a slug proved too horrendous to photograph !!)

In the past two days I have been offered much sagely advice on how to deal with that stickiest of characters, the loathsome slug.

Both sets of advice were imparted to me with a kind of reverence and double  dip of the head as though these were trade secrets indeed. Let’s be honest there is not that much to endear slugs to you. That ghastly tutu frilled undulating skirt is not winsome and a reminder of a ballerina , no -more the reminder of a grotesque puppet show mannequin. And that attractive  leopard skin look is not visions of Africa but more visions of a ghastly drag queen soiree  in Belgrade.

The first recipe  involved copious bulbs of garlic , hot water and a judicious decanting and mixing of the liquor with water . The idea was to then water this mixture over the beleaguered plants and voila !  but questions arise from this already .. how many times do you water this in ? ratios of mixture to water..? another drawback mentioned by the partner of the sorcerer was the fact that you have to put up with your house stinking of garlic for days , whilst and during the miracle product is created.

The second recipe went for the completely chemical approach. The lady suggesting this anti slug remedy advocated the use of WD40 sprayed all over the upper and under side of hosta leaves . The Wd40 spray apparently works a treat and deters all slugs. Mention was not made about the long term effect on the plant !

This is the time for  Big Love in a small garden

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If you are hunting for mini prairie inspiration then this is surely it . Our bijou jewel box of a garden is hidden just around the corner from our pay in bothy at the garden entrance. Not many people discover its treasures so I feel that I should point it out for  a special mention. While the big prairie landscape is all about brash and bragging on size , Charlottes garden is petite and shy and unassuming.Hidden behind a hornbeam hedge it is a little tricky to find and sits to the north of the main house.

DSC05067We designed and planted this garden with a lovely french  student called Charlotte  who came to do a placement with us  a few years ago. hence the name of the garden.Plants include Astrantia major Rosea,Allium Summer Beauty, Deschampsia cespitosa Goldtau, Pulmonaria ( a lovely pink one under the apple tree mixed with hellebores ), Phlomis russelliana, Persicaria Firedance  among others! Prairie mix in miniature .

DSC05065Here it is , shaded by its apple tree guardians and goose shed companion. In this garden we have tried to show how prairie planting can still work successfully but on a smaller scale to elsewhere in the garden. Groups are still generous but again it is important to use texture and structure of leaf and stem to bring about the unity and difference.There are no hard surfaces as all the pathways through the garden are made of wood chip.

DSC05064And in the lee of the house the hostas grow enormous !

DSC05063A sweet little place for secret assignations , intrigue and dalliance . make sure you don’t miss it !  It can be seen at Sussex Prairies every day except Tuesdays , 1pm until 5pm  until 11th october 2015

Saddle Up

New rustlers out on the New Frontier Border this week !

IMG_1567we were adding to the pioneer mix by adding in Angelica, poppies and the gorgeous dark purple Chenopodium.Now we are wondering who will triumph , who will fall .. so far little impact or swing to any party but I can see them flexing their pecs and tightening their belts. The spurs clatter menacingly  and the tumbleweed blows through.

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ohbeehivecardOh Beehive !

Feel the buzz and make a bee line for Sussex Prairies from 1st June  when we shall be celebrating our love of bees ! Pollenicious baby !

DSC04666Our whimsical celebrity, Austin Flowers ,will be creating a buzz in the largest beehive in Sussex. Find him bee- hind you in his foppish attire and count his collection of pin badges and  jewellery as part of the bee quiz .Will you be bold enough to feel the bees in his bee box ?

BisforbeeYou can also follow the bee trail of bee factoids around the garden.. you will be able to answer such questions as -what does a Queen do ? how fast  can a bee fly  ? how do bees communicate ?how long have bees been here  ?  how is honey made ?

and finally make it to the teashop and the  Queen Honey Cake Tower   ! and sample some of our cakes made with honey , herbs and flowers.Bee – licious !

alisoncatchlovebeeWe shall be joined by local beekeepers and a local blacksmith and green woodworker making bee related items on Friday 5th , Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June 2015. The sculptor Alison Catchlove will be exhibiting her bee sculptures in the garden..

Dates for the Chelsea Fringe Oh Beehive

Monday 1st June             1pm -5pm

Closed Tuesday 2nd June

Wednesday 3rd June     1pm -5pm

Thursday 4th June         1pm – 5pm

Friday 5th June               1pm – 5pm

Saturday 6th June         1pm – 5pm

Sunday 7th June             1pm – 5pm

Venue : Sussex Prairie Garden , Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road (B2116 ), Near Henfield, West Sussex , BN5 9AT.

Tel 01273 495902 email morlandsfarm@btinternet.com website http://www.sussexprairies.co.uk

Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sussex-Prairies and Twitter @sussexprairies and on Pinterest- look out for the board celebrating Oh Beehive !

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We have been forging new frontiers – Thursday was  a Lock,Stock and two smoking Trowels day !

Some of our  pioneer plants that have a bit a chip on their shoulder rode into town and rode out again into our New Frontier Border next to the house. These are the thugs and the reprobates of our garden . The ones with a swagger and a bad case of droopy jeans and gringo moustaches. You know ,the no-good  guys in the westerns, the ones with the bad ass attitude and a tendency to cause just a little bit of trouble.

Well we decided that these bad guys should have their day and fight it out at the high noon under the poplar trees, in the driest most inhospitable wasteland badlands. It is a dry , stony , arid strip and the tumble weed will blow through in the dry summers. Inattentive groups from coach parties may well trample them as they descend from their buses and a multitude of dogs may poo and pee on them .Can these plants survive , fight each other for supremacy and establish their mighty kingdoms ?  We have taken the worst of their kind -the big seeders , thugs, ne’er- do- wells , cads and colonisers and put them in a border together to fight it out . Who will win , who will get the upper hand ?

Who is on the Outlaw Roll call ?

These are the awesome eight plants that we have chosen for this stage  of the experiment –

Verbena Bonariensis ,Thalictrum Lucidum,Lythrum salicaria,Erigeron Annuus ,Knautia macedonica,Cephalaria dipsacoides, Foeniculum vulgare purpureum,and Echinops exaltatus.

Is this what they call a Matrix Planting ?

well matrix is as matrix does ! certainly the plants are in a random interlaced pattern of sorts. But the theory is ,and this is the exciting bit which should come to pass in time ,they will make their own pattern and hierarchy as they fight it out for supremacy.The strongest will no doubt survive and the weakest shall fall ! Let the fun commence !

bn5frontcover 1A garden wardrobe revealed here on the front cover of our local BN5 magazine, Paul , Pauline and our WRAGS student Denise.

I have just read a wonderful piece about gardeners workwear in the Telegraph… and it is extraordinary the lengths some people seem to be going to create that perfect tousled, seemingly unkempt  gardeners look. Not the fancy  Australian workbooks for us , not the fanciful dubarry boots or wild west chaps and stetsons. No catwalk fantasy , fancy pants or Ferragamo frills on the prairies . We are wearing real stuff, :clothes from the ghetto of the second hand shops, the reject buckets, the down and out rails of the high street. Clothes in which  you can wrestle with sheep , clothes that pigs can ravage, clothes that brambles tear and terrify. Clothes that can be discarded and left for days out in all weathers and can then be put back on again. Clothes that have no name , no home and no family.. wilderness wear !

so let’s see what the best prairie gardeners are wearing today….

Today Pauline is modelling the layered look… a vibrant green ralph lauren cashmere jumper (Ralph Lauren factory shop reject .. no one wanted that virulent green at any price) layered masterfully with another red cashmere cardigan M & S .. riven with moth/fire /puppy claw holes and missing odd buttons.. splattered in mud.. topped off by truly authentic romanian shepherds jerkin… (sporting stains- various) …trousers , Levis ,are courtesy of Paco , a crazy, lovely and eccentric spanish student … hems tattered  and free form, tears in knees and elsewhere ,undeliberate and adding character and ventilation…. and red wellingtons ….

Paul prefers that  farmer preppy combo of cord trousers (sporting another Ralph Lauren classic pointer dog motif if you look closely ) and barbour jacket , deputy dawg ear flap hat and fluffy fur lined wellies….a winner in every way !

Wild West it isn’t ,although we now have some gorgeous secateur holsters courtesy of some mystery gift giver… try us on the quick draw at your peril !

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DSC01407or rather, Pocket sized propagation of plants in Bhutan .

This post is all about the ingenious ways we saw plants being grown on a small scale in Bhutan . It was not so much about formal fancy gardens , but more about  reusing what you could find as a container , thus reducing waste and promoting recycling and creating your mini garden around your house or appartment.

DSC01480Gardening for decorativeness is not high on the agenda  of many Bhutanese who let it be said ,are more concerned with the greater importance  of living day to day and eking out a living from either their small shops , businesses , plots and fields clinging to vertiginous slopes and  the ever so demanding landscape.

DSC01947So it was with a strange fascination that I started to photograph the many ingenious and curious ways in which flowering plants were nurtured and obviously enjoyed by the Bhutanese around their homes.

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A popular vessel was the ever rubbery car tyre .. A staple and popular plant pot around prayer wheels.. often cunningly embellished with a painted design but tin cans ,oil containers,plastic bottles also proved useful  and were all stripped down and made into pots for plants. Geraniums did feature highly on the list of favoured house plants with many still flowering gamely at incredible altitudes and in all sorts of dusty corners.DSC01962

DSC01693There was obviously always someone with a soft spot somewhere keen to prettify their space or home with flowers and foliage. I rather liked their reckless and fanciful combinations too and a spare corner or space could prove useful for that prize cobbled together collection .Here is a group of plants at the village prayer wheel . This plant hoarder even risks having his collection  being knocked off by  an over exuberant prayer wheel turner !

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