Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Bra- Drona at Cardrona, New Zealand

Bra- Drona at Cardrona, New Zealand

on a day when we have had sun,hail,snow and sun ….Vest is not a sexy word nor can its name be spake in this garden !

A lacey slip of a thing it could be considered a wonder garment of warmth and subtlety but the fact is we are looking for something a little more robust . We are searching for a solution to the age old problem of the gap of winter colly wobbles created when you bend and stretch and today we need something of strength and purpose to breach the gap between trouser top and achingly exposed back acreage.What will it be ? The Damart dance of destiny ? a sneaky peak through the small ads of shame and nicker pink thermolactyls ? what  to do as the prairie winds blow coolly this springtide?

 

Read Full Post »

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 !

 

 

Read Full Post »

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 !

IMG_1457

 

Read Full Post »

007

how you might feel after being in a ditch …. stoney and glum

New wading bird seen in ditch in garden ! Pauline McBride in fashionable wading gear up to her armpits. It was not a good look . Not any look at all if you ask me . Waders are so unflattering in so many ways, particularly if the said costume is several sizes too big and any straps and belts have to be wound into some sort of kinky S and M outfit to hold the whole thing up. More like  fifty shades of dirty rubber ,than grey .The ditch is deep with sides like a canyon laced with curling brambles and foot trapping wirey bryony and in this time of flood ,very deep and needing a dredger to clear the sticky foot clinging silt.Walking in  the waders and thigh deep in sludge is an exercise workout in itself. Lifting your foot requires will power and a force equal to a jcb and over and over again . Dragging myself along with a miserable slovenly limp is all I can do by the end of the day.In fact, hauling myself out of the ditch I feel like one of the first reptiles coming out of the swamp on to land at the beginning of time because after an afternoon of it , it feels like that long .Couple all that with a wind from Siberia and I feel that  I could have flown in from the Tundra , backwards by the end of the afternoon.And mud in the face is such a joy . Farm spa indeed.

Flailed by brambles and blackthorn and sporting a crazed and whipped face (brambles again) this is an unholy pit of mire and not much mirth. Tomorrow will be more of the same I suppose  as we clear the way for waters flowing aplenty. Better in the ditch than in the garden where to walk on water is one of the everyday miracles.

Read Full Post »

winter2012 038It all started very innocently, if dramatically, by a mass breakout of the ram lambs (but not my favourites : Curly, Curly’s Brother or Wills), from the Little Field, through the thick spiny hedge, on to the main road. Alerted and aided by our favourite Jewsons delivery man, and concerned passers by, we managed to herd the rest of the misfits back into the field with copious amounts of sheeep food. By awesome detective work (wool on barbed wire)  we located the hole that they had made in the hedge and set about effecting repairs. The small ram lambs kept sidling back to see if they could escape again once our backs were turned but were easily shooed away once we had thrown hammers and sickles at them! But there lurked a far greater danger in waiting. An evil brown monster bent on trouble. Like a perverted dirty old man he ambled along the hedge line supposedly minding his own business but obviously pitching for a fight. Being shooed away was not in his game plan as he took the initiative to mount a full scale full on attack. This involved running at us full pelt with horns and knee breaking boulder sized thick head at the ready to do serious damage. Thank fully , Paul is not only a master gardener but fully versed in the wily arts of matedor cape swirling. (all learnt from Strictly Come Dancing ) and was able to deflect the onslaught by dexterous Barbour jacket moves which unnerved the ovine tornado bearing down upon us. A couple of passes and he managed to catch hold of his lethal horns and manhandle him unceremoniously to the ground and sit on him. So far so good but sitting on him was like sitting on an unexploded bomb as the heaving mass of testosterone fuelled muscle quivered in rage. To avoid counter attacks from the young bucks I managed to get them all into the garden field and then grabbed hold of a horn each and  dragged the fuming mass of machismo in with them.

Shaken but not stirred we carried on to check the ewes.

winter2012 039But dark clouds were brewing and it was only a matter of minutes before the boys (led by evil personified , Othello), had broken out of the field again and were up at the house garden looking for trouble. In fact looking for a dear old unsuspecting pensioner, Pat, my mum. Ignoring mum and her enticing bucket of food the devil incarnate knocked her to the ground and set about beating her up. Being a tough old farmers wife , mum managed to grab his horns and drag herself up and away from the battering to alert us to his antics.

Another sackful of sheep food and all were enticed back into their stronghold again.Field now only to be entered with armed bodyguard, cape and pitchfork. But the harsh future is writ large as the date for execution draws nigh .

winter2012 035 It was only later when we discovered what had happenend during his sex fuelled rape and pillage ploy as the poor old sheep sculptures will testify. Horribly abused by hooves and wilful uncontrolled lust they lay scattered and abused on the ground.

Read Full Post »

When Serena contacted me to ask if she could show her work in our garden I felt very honoured . Now I have a stunning array of her work in our house garden for the winter and spring months. A canny collection of exceptionally diverse and imaginatively wrought beasts and birds fashioned from a salvaged collection of old tools, artifacts and ironworks.

Serena Thirkell is the great-great-granddaughter of the Pre- Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones, whose stained glass windows can be seen in St Michael’s Church, Brighton and who is buried in St Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean. (there are two wonderfully designed windows in the church too !)

stretch poodle

Scrap metal pieces take on a bizarre life of their own as they become the crazed stretch poodle or the marvellously composed Blade Swan. The poodle is composed of a spinning series of cogs,spiralling crazily around to form the coiled curls of a poodlesque fur coat .Luckily he has a food dish full of bolts and screws to nourish him !

blade swan

  Cowering in the shadow of the hornbeam hedges the Mudflapper snaps its mouth menacingly and with his multi -fork legs dangerously  akimbo looks as if he has settled in perfectly.Something industrial becomes something entirely magical and enchanted in Serena’s hands.

The Trojan Horse and now its Blue Foal are poised for flight in the front border ,and you can imagine them cantering serenely through the grasses and out on to the prairie beyond, arching their graceful necks and swishing their tails. The metallic clatter of hooves strikes fear into the highwayman’s soul !

And presiding over the whole scene like an all seeing spectre , the Hectapus, ghoulish and menacing.

Read More about Serena, her work , background , inspiration and where she is exhibiting on her website at www.serenathirkell.co.uk

Read Full Post »

it is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a cashmere cardigan (ruined by fire 2011 ) must be in want of a new gorgeous cardigan as a new year treat. (sorry Jane !) so reader I bought one (for myself).

more wild,firey  dawn awakenings outside. The colours these days are just Jackson Pollock on a  good day .Being a little tardy this morning , thought I would nip out to feed my sheep in cashmere cardie . Silly and foolhardy mistake as they have such a careless disregard for ones attire as they barrel at a rate of knots through the quagmire and splash mud like demented rally drivers. Blinded by mud and filth, they easily wrestle their nuts from my grasp and feast like maniacs ripping said knitwear on fence .Retire back to house besplattered and in need of dry cleaners. Get changed .

At the risk of sounding like an horrendous cashmere bore I can truthfully say that cashmere is the only thing to wear in the garden. Deliciously warm it really does the  job in insulation and warmth and looks vaguely glamourous as I cultivate my “interesting gardener” look as opposed to living scarecrow.Talking of scarecrows , the Galloping Gardener has recently written a wonderful blog about National Trust scarecrows !

Sparks though are the enemy of  woollen wear of any description. And now burning season is upon us one has to be vigilent of flyaway sparks and cinders which render ones garment a ghoulishly lacy web.Sadly, burning now halted due to driech weather.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »