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IMG_1073I was delighted to be approached by Helen asking to bring her wonderful sculptures to our garden for exhibition this summer.Come and find her pieces in their particular secret places in the garden when you can ! From her organic forms that so echo our seed heads and plant structures to her delightful Compostella and Compostello they are all pieces that should delight you.
IMG_2558In Helen’s own words –
“I was born in Southern Ireland and initially trained in Drama in London.
I am the proud mother of three children and two wonderful grandsons.
IMG_2556.JPGIn 1994, when I was 46, I became unwell.  It was in the hospital Art Therapy Room that I was given a lump of clay and I passionately believe that given the space and time to create allowed the healing process to begin.
I continued to work with my hands, and to this day I am grateful for my rich and nourishing life.
I attended Adult Education classes in Sculpture and completed a Foundation Arts Course at Northbrook College.
I work with a variety of materials, my favourite is pulped newspaper!  With words, it is recycled, appears fragile , but it is in fact one of the strongest and most enduring materials.  This complements both the strength and the vulnerability expressed in the form.
P1090642.JPGI have exhibited in galleries across England and Ireland and my sculptures, paintings and commissions have found homes in England, Ireland, France and New York.”
HELEN MARY STRONGE
07876266820
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IMG_8794Hot foot from the biggest plant fair in Europe at Beervelde I am very excited to announce that we have six more new dahlias coming into the garden bought from the inimitable Koen Van Poucke nursery. These new beauties will soon be kicking up their heels in the dahlia meadow.Above a photo in the dahlia meadow from last year showing how the dahlias and grasses make a perfect combination !

The Latest Arrivals

I have used Koen’s photos here to illustrate what I have bought .

First up in the stable

Dahlia Fatima

another of my favourite hot pinks ! I am hoping this one will really stand out in our dahlia meadow . As it is rumoured to have  2 1/2″ blooms on a strong 4′ bush. It is also recommended as a super cut flower.

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Dahlia Souvenir d’Ete

A vibrant burnt orange coloured flower,ideal for a hot prairie border.I’m hoping this one will be a bit of a stunner in our bouquets.

Souvenir d'ete.jpgDahlia Cornel

well I always love reds of all hues so this one is a Ball dahlia of a sophisticated maroon-red. Flower size is meant to be 3-4″ (7-10cm) and Height 47″ (120cm). Looking forward to seeing this one grow.

Cornel.jpgDahlia Sheer Heaven

Sheer heaven.jpgDahlia Tartan

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Dahlia Brittany Rey

the final one doesn’t even merit a picture in Koen’s list but  can assure you it is a cracker having scouted about on the internet for photos.Just wait for my own photos which should be coming soon ! A rather strange and quirky combination of pink and yellow will make this dahlia quite a looker if its like the photos show. And pleased to see that it is a good dahlia for cutting too !

Planted and Ready to Face the first Furlong and Fence

so we managed to get all the dahlias that are ready to go out and face the world planted in the garden this week. A lovely collection of Dahlia Magenta Star will grace the inner circle of the cutting garden so that should create quite a stir when they bloom. The rest of this crew and their companions are now well on their way and slugs, rabbits, pigeons and deer  providing I hope will make a super display !

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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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TextileNatureJKTfin copy

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 .

AnneKellydetailfrom'NaturalHistoryWaistcoat'

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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