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Archive for the ‘prairie’ Category

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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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 !

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009Big is definitely more beautiful – of course it is .. especially when the big grasses are part of the picture. In our Sussex Prairies garden  only twenty five percent of the garden is grasses but at this time of year the grasses definitely take front of stage with their impressive stature, dominating presence and architectural splendour.

002Is it the metallic sheen on the grass flower heads that gives that ethereal quality to the whole, or is it the heady wispiness and romance of the flowers that creates such a spectacle ? is it the arching fronds that brush and tickle you as you pass by ?or is it the firey flashes of brilliance in the leaves or seedheads ? it is all of that and more and set in dream partnerships with the later perennials they are crackers !

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High Five !

Here at our top five  grasses for this year-

1. Miscanthus Malepartus

big bold and dark purple flowers  .. towers in at a heady 8 ft tall

2. Miscanthus Zwerg Elefant (dwarf elephant)

flowers unfurl like a curled elefants trunk and then  emerge like crinkle cut chips

3. Sporobolis heterolepsis

grass with presence and fragrance .. imagine freshly cut coriander on a summers day

4. Panicum Frosted Explosion

a real firework of an annual grass but misty and moving at the same time.. a perfect grass as a dream partner in the garden

5. Miscanthus Ghana

feels like a bonfire burning…with all the the firey colours of autumn and the zest and zing of gunpowder.

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The Enormously Great Unusual Plant & Art Fair – 31st August 2014

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We are getting very excited about our upcoming Unusual Plant and Art Fair this year as we have a wealth of great exhibitors coming to spoil you with their incredible selection of plants and art works.

Here they all are listed below . If you would like to read more about any of them please do go to our website ,under the Event Plant & Art Fair ,where all the exhibitors are listed with links to their websites.

NEW ! Plant & Art Creche !
This year the local scouts group will be providing a Plant & Art Creche for all your purchases, as well as a handy run to car service for a small donation !

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FOOD
We shall be offering a great range of homemade food with the ever popular Shetland Lamb Burgers featuring on the menu, homemade soup and filled ploughman’s rolls. Delicious homemade cakes, scones ,teas ,coffees and Ice creams will of course be there for you to enjoy as normal !

Entrance to the Fair and the garden on that day is £6 adult, £3 child. RHS members are kindly asked to pay £4.80 for entrance to the Fair that day , Season Ticket holders can use their season tickets to come in for free !

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Plants: The ABC of

Great Nurseries
B :Beth Chattos nursery,Blue leaf Plants, Borde Hill,Bulls Green nursery,
C :Charleshurst Farm Nursery,Chris Ghyselen,Camolin Potting Shed, Copton Ash Nursery
D: Daisy Roots, Decoy Nursery,Diane Cole Hardy Plants,Dysons Nurseries
E: Eastcroft Roses, Essex carnivorous Plants, Evolution Plants
F:Forget me Not Plants
H:Hardys Cottage Garden Plants, Herbal Haven
K:Kevin Hughes Plants, Kings Barn Trees
L:Little Omenden Farm Nursery,Longacre Nursery
M:Madrona Nursery
N:Nymans Nursery
P:Penny’s Plants,Philip Johnson, Phoenix Perennial Plants, Pineview Plants , Plantbase,Plants from Venus, Plant heritage
R:Rapkyns Nursery,Rose Cottage Plants, Rotherview Nursery
S:Special Plants, Swallowfields Nursery,Sweetbriar Nursery.
T:The Garden House Brighton, The Plant Specialist
U: Usual and Unusual Plants
W: Wildflower Lawns & meadows

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Art and Crafts :The ABC of Art & Craft
A:Adele Scantlebury,Alison Chesman, Angela Evans,Anne Kelly Textiles, Annie McMullan
B:Bev Burt Ceramics
C:Ceramic Gardens, Chris Burchell Collins,Coalshed Pottery
D:Dave Unsted, David Meed,Debbie Siniska
F:Fibreactive, Fibrefrenzi
G :Garden Art & Sculpture,Gillian Hills, Glass Follies, Grenville Allen,
H :Handmade in Surrey,Hot Metal Works
J:Janine Creaye,James pilston Decorative Arts, Jill Stringer,Jola Spytkowska, Jose Heasman
K:Keith Windsor
M:Michele Carnie
P:Paul Cox, Pumpkin Palace pots and Slow Sew
R:Rachel Swift
S:Sue Samways Mosaics,Sarah Design,Sharon Norman,Studio 28 Mosiacs, Studio Shards, Sue Petty
T:Terry Guile, the Luddite, Tom Critchley,True Fair Trading CIC
W:Woven Oak

we shall also be joined by some super charities too – Sussex Gardens Trust, the RSPB , Sussex Wildlife Trust and HART

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Want to make friends, then why not share a pot of beautiful fresh herb tea ! We have a range of fresh grown herbal teas to tantalise the palate and perk up the dulled senses .

Growing on our teashop terrace ,we can nip out and pick the freshest of tips for your pot of delight. Now you read before about the steamy sweaty camels and bedazzled camel drovers …so time for a new tale…

Run your fingers through the glossy stems of our fresh mints …what about the luscious chocolate peppermint ? Smooth  ,seductive and sensual.Rolls into your mouth like a melted After Eight.. The type of After Eight eaten in bed with a wanton lover..and melted on your pillow . The type of After Eight forgotten after a late dinner party but found lurking secretly in the box and eaten with subterfuge and secret glee.The type of After Eight slipped into a leather glove and carried away to a smugglers den where general carousing and making merry may be happening with riotous abandon.You know the type of scene- buxom,garralous serving wench,handsome highwayman with a swagger and a lascivious smile,all tight leather pants and a glint in his eye,and an accommodating dry cleaner.What about the charming rustic , all corduroy and sweaty singlet and a can of coke in his pocket ? Just ready for that advertising break.Or the handsome man of mystery, floral chemise,cravat and oh so  creased linen suit -dragged through a haystack with the boys and then took a ride on the hay wagon .

So we  too can be  the wild rovers of taste, the robin hoods  of  flavour and the buccaneers of  balm .We are the prairie tea queens !

 

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We are delighted that this year we have a textile artist in residence bringing a world of wonderful textile beauty to our garden room exhibition space.

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Anne Kelly – about me

“I collect recycled fabric, paper and ephemera using collage, stitch, photographic and print processes to create a range of work, most of which is framed. My inspirations are travel, memory and vintage imagery from a variety of sources. These have been described as ‘small worlds’ and my current layered mixed media work started life as mainly botanical in subject matter before developing into larger more narrative works. I assemble and reassemble the components of each piece using sketchbooks and digital imagery. Often it can be a small scrap or remnant of fabric that inspires a whole piece.  I am inspired by natural history and gardens. Collaborations are an important aspect of my work and I enjoy working with other artists and teaching. I also produce commissions for private and public individuals  – examples of these ‘collages in cloth’, based on special places, people and spaces can be found on my website. I have co written a book for Batsford/Anova press  which was published in 2013 called ‘Connected Cloth’

A Natural History of the Garden At Sussex Prairies-

Anne has brought an amazing textile exhibition of her latest garden related work and is working on a wonderful collaborative wall piece called A Natural History of the Garden which is helping to raise funds for the RSPB Southeast. Anne will be coming to the garden regularly during the summer to work on the project and to lead drop in sessions of creative stitching on a garden theme with a range of glorious textiles.

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Why not come and try your hand at making a small piece for our wall..we have all the materials you need and even a whole load of inspiration from books and printed materials as well as the big garden of course.

Take Anne’s easy step by step guide to creating your own piece. What better way to spend an afternoon sewing and chatting with friends over a piece of  homemade cake and a cup of tea.

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and if you would like to learn from Anne why not come and join us for one of Anne’s workshops  here on the Prairies-

 A series of Workshops by Anne Inspired by the garden –

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‘Illustrating Garden Poetry’ saturday 28th June 2014

–Looking at the work of some contemporary poets, we will discuss ways to combine stitch and words in a special piece which you will start on the day and finish afterwards. You will create a unique record of your garden, one that you’ve visited or a special plant/flower that you like. Full day workshop.

 

‘Prairie Paper and Stitch’ saturday 26th July 2014

– combining paper and cloth extends your options when working in textiles. In this one-day course, tutor Anne Kelly will demonstrate some basic bonding techniques and help you to make a small folding book form celebrating a favourite green space.

Full day workshop .

 

‘Planting in Cloth’ –Saturday 6th September 2014

Surrounded by the lovely setting of the Prairie Gardens, we will use them as the basis to record plant and flower drawings and paintings on cloth. These will then be stitched using a variety of techniques and can be finished as solo pieces or incorporated into a larger piece. Full day workshop .

 

 

‘Little House on the Prairie’ – Sunday 28th September 2014

A joint parent and child course – using a variety of simple stitch and bonding techniques, create a unique record of your house and garden with a member of your family. You will make the basis of this piece during the one-day workshop and can continue to embellish and add to it at home. Full day workshop .

read more abut Anne on her website http://www.annekellytextiles.com

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Do you know there is a world of gardens out there who welcome  dogs ! YES ! woof woof !

And Sussex Prairies is definitely one of them ! Dogs of all shapes ,sizes, and character are welcome with their  well behaved owners ! Do please keep your dogs  on a short lead when you are in the garden and especially in the borders themselves.

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We have installed some special dog bag dispensers at the entrance to the garden and around the garden with dog waste dustbins with them, so all we ask is that you use them .!. or do ask for a dog waste bag at the teashop and we shall be happy to oblige !

IMG_8273look out for the special carved dopy poo bag dispenser boxes and the bins clearly marked for dog waste

IMG_8275not too much to ask we think to clear up after your dog so everyone can enjoy the garden !

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The NGS also have a list of gardens in each county who are happy to welcome  dogs and here is the one for West Sussex !  why should your best friend stay at home when you are having fun visiting gardens !

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