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IMG_0390Flip to the Bee Side – Paul tells his tale about his bees

As I walked past my five hives of bees this evening, not paying much attention, I heard a deep buzzing noise coming from one of them. I bent my ear close to the hive entrance(there being no flying on this damp dusk) and the buzzing increased as if they were being disturbed. I glanced up and realised that I had failed to observe a medium sized swarm of about 5000 bees, clustered on the outside of the hive 6 inches from my face. Yikes! I thought, along with some other less Enid Blyton like curses!!

Have a Go Beeman.

My challenge, I decided, was to find a way of collecting, hiving and feeding the swarm, within the twenty minutes of daylight left to me. I had to think quick, and this is what I did.

Cakus Interuptus

Firstly, interrupt Pauline making Rhubarb cake in the kitchen to boil the kettle and make some sugar syrup. Then search for a suitable way of scanning the  bees off the flat wooden exterior of the hive. My eyes alighted on a box of 12 Schweppes tonic waters. The empty cardboard box, with it’s end cut off made a perfect scoop for bee collection. So I hoped.

Job Done!

I trotted off to the bees in the field, got my kit on, and slowly slid the tonic box, whilst holding it tight, flat against the hive, until all the bees slipped into the box. Amazingly, I collected all but three bees in a matter of seconds. Two minutes later they were in the new hive with a feeder full of syrup and a reduced entrance to discourage other bees from robbing.

Moral of the Tale 

a swarm in the hive is worth two in the bush !

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p1000797Pathways , bridges and ways of walking to places are particularly significant in Japan.so it seemed only right that I should talk a bit about these .

In the gardens we visited ,the pathways (often out of bounds it has to be said ) tantalisingly led away up hillsides and out of view .But the construction was so beautiful, exact and precise with just the right sized stones and composition fitting together perfectly.

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larger stones formed the main path way with all the smaller stones fitting in around it to make the perfect route directing your eye down the slope. And then when you intersperse with plants and water the pathways become that much more beautiful.

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there is a sparseness and an equanimity of detail that also appeals to me .

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simple stepping stones also take on a rare beauty of their own.

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but the mystery of a pathway that leads away into  plants is ever tantalising to me and is maybe what makes our Sussex Prairies so enveloping and welcoming !

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and who also doesn’t love a lush planted pathway inviting you into a house ?

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Go wild in the Country….feel  absolutely free

Join us on Sunday 26th June , 1pm until 5pm ,with Sussex Wildlife Trust and Anne Kelly ,renowned author of Textile Nature, a new book celebrating wildlife and giving invaluable guidance on how nature can be inspirational in  textile art .

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Being Wild in Your Garden

How to attract wildlife into your garden is among the advice on offer at this open day.

Gardening expert Peter Crawford ,from the Sussex Wildlife Trust , will offer tips on attracting butterflies, hedgehogs and toads into gardens and green spaces.

AnnekellyflowerimageYour gardening questions can be answered by Peter and learn how children can be encouraged to go wild and sow seeds in paper pots to take home.

IMG_7560Anne Kelly, Textile Artist

Anne Kelly featured as our artist in residence in 2014 and was really inspired by her time in our garden. On Sunday  Anne will be joined by many of her fellow artists and contributors to the book and we will see the unveiling of The Stitched Shed . The shed will be travelling as part of a major exhibition being taken by Anne to The prestigious  Knit and Stitch Show in London, Harrogate and Dublin. Anne will be available to sign copies of her new book , and lucky winners in the Sussex Wildlife Raffle will be able to win an original artwork from Anne and others.

voucher30dayswildHalf Price Voucher

follow the link to this voucher to get half price entry to Sussex Prairies on Sunday 26th June   https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/admin/resources/swtprairegardenvoucher.jpg

 

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IMG_0067This time of year – January  and February is the time of year when Paul and I start to burn down our Sussex Prairie garden and people are shocked and stunned and always ask us why . So it is time to tell the story.

IMG_5740Why do we Burn our Prairie ?

Big spaces require big solutions and our garden is no exception to this . We have probably now over eight acres of garden requiring to be razed to the ground at some point over the winter months. More traditional methods in your average garden would include cutting down with secateurs, scythe or strimmer. But we have a different solution because of the size of the task.

Burning is a quick , clean and dramatic way of clearing away all the dead last years growth and solves the problem of what to do with the mountain of material created in such a clearance.

IMG_1260Because it is Fun and a little bit dangerous !

Burning the garden on a big scale is a whole load of fun too and is one of the tasks our volunteers love to lend us a hand with . Everyone loves a good blaze after all .

IMG_5854How do you do it ?

In ideal weather and ground conditions we prefer to be able to leave the garden standing all winter and allow the winter frosts and winds dry the stems,stalks and leaves to a crisp.This would mean that on a windy and dry day we could burn the garden in situ without further ado. A dramatic and scary solution !

This year has been a bit of an exception with major wet  and warm weather leaving many plants green in many parts and this means that they  will not burn fully whilst standing in place. So we have created the bonfire burn this year . This involves building mini bonfires throughout the bed on the pathways and  we have had to cut and burn as we go.

However the big clumps of grasses have been burnt in their place and what a roar of flame and crackle of fire ensued!

IMG_5847But what about the plants ?

people ask do the plants get damaged ..?. well they don’t because we do this at a time of year when the plants themselves are dormant . Their roots  and buds are safely underground and are not damaged by the fire which moves quickly overhead (thats why we need a windy day to carry the fire quickly and ferociously over the top of the plants) A good Wind and Dry weather is the key !

 

 

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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 !

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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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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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