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DSC01501Last year we were heading to Bhutan in November and December  and at the back of our minds was the very haphazard and unformed intention that we may have the opportunity to collect some seeds on the  way . It was the best time of year for seed collecting too .. the dryest time and the clearest time weather wise. Travelling in a group of four with a car, we knew  that we would be able to call the shots a bit and collect en route  as we sped onwards from East to West across the whole country. Well we weren’t very prepared from the start . Suddenly confronted with a plethora of seeds at our first stop we were scouring our pockets for any packets in which to put them.. oh my goodness where are the envelopes..?  the seed collecting envelopes we had looked out for the trip were now ,of course ,sitting smugly at home . DSC01506So stage one was finding a shop to try and buy some envelopes . Bhutanese is not our first language so trying to explain to our guide what we were looking for, and thence conveying that to a wrinkled darling  of a shopkeeper deep in the shady and dark recesses of the first shop we came to, was the first job to do. She delved into a black hole of wares and came up with a large pack of envelopes. Sorted. DSC01773Then it was matter of finding the seeds … never on a lovely flat safe roadside .. no… always on a vertiginous , scarily plummeting  escarpment. We had to lean dizzily over the edge as we reached for the tantalising seed heads .. ever so just out of reach.It was a matter of trying to fashion grabbing and hooking tools to pull stems towards us . It was a question of Paul leaning out over the abyss and being held by his shirttails by a scared and fearsome wife. Underfoot a scree of peril could plunge you to your doom at any moment . The best specimens always seductively out of reach… wagging their rare and special seedheads in torment.. just a step beyond the outstretched hand. DSC02001Do the professional plant hunters have this sort of trouble ? in their multi pocketed jerkins looking the part they always seem to portray that smug satisfaction of another specimen under their belt with very little trouble. They do not bear the scratches and strained tendons from yet another death defying scramble up or down a rocky heartbeat of death cliff face. Armed with their trusty encyclopaedia of plant books they are naming names and taking notes… we are a little less prepared … as you might expect . Arriving in Bhutan without any plant books we are lucky enough to find the equivalent of a Spot the Plant Peter and Jane plant identifier .. it is somewhat  basic and is not the  type of erudite and scholarly tome one would have asked for but it will do ! Not surprisingly the whole genus of grasses was absent . And surprisingly it is pretty good after all and we managed to name and identify a good portion of all we managed to collect … but there are some unknowns …. And so the stack of envelopes grows and we pore over our haul every day like some fiendish hoarders of rare and exotic treasures . Which of course to us they are ! DSC02129Now we are home again we unpack our smuggled seeds and take stock. Real plant hunters will turn in their graves.Our lacksadaisical approach to gathering and collecting is interspersed of course with a good deal of  relaxing and gin and tonics en route ! Here is Paul doing just that after a heavy morning of seed collecting and Dzong visiting ! DSC01523 Not for us the carefully and studiously annotated descriptions … more like some undecipherable scrawl in a leaking biro, spidery and at a strange angle on each envelope.. you are lucky if it can be read . We were swerving wildly up and down the gradients of death and shaken to bits by the rocky road surface and writing , even reading, anything on those roads was impossible. And as for a pristine and uncontaminated milieu for the seeds  … Now I am not at all surprised to find  stray yak hairs stuck on the envelope gum or have to peel off Druk beer labels or find crumbs of cheese from the swiss cheese factory caught up in the envelope store.This is plant hunting Sussex Prairie style . We cannot wait to see what we can grow this spring from all that we have collected ! Just wait and see !!

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Finding yourself under a pong pong or suicide tree you could be forgiven for feeling a tad melancholy.

Cerbera odollam is a species of tree native to India and other parts of Southern Asia. It prefers to grow in coastal salt swamps and marshy areas. It grows wild along the coast in many parts of Kerala , India too and is often used as a useful ,if sinister, hedge . Grimly, what it does do is yield a potent poison which is often used for suicide or even – murder !

The bobbly fruits are used for manufacturing bioinsecticides and deoderants.When they are dried out the seeds are wonderfully textured and gnarly  .

Look what I have been collecting to bring home with us !

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We are nearly there and the countdown has begun : On Sunday 2nd September 2012 (from 11am until 5pm ) a rare collection of exciting nurseries, artists and crafts people will be coming together in the Sussex Prairie garden bringing a great selection of unusual plants and beautiful pieces for you to buy.

A great chance to source some amazing plants and art works for you, your house, your garden and your larder.

We shall be featuring among others the following specialist nurseries :the wonderful Dutch nurseryman Coen Janssen ,Madrona, Edulis, Usual and Unusual Plants, Chris Ghyselen, persicaria breeder, from Belgium, Nymans , Rose Cottage Plants with their bulbs , The Plant Specialist, Daisy Roots, Dysons Nursery, Brighton Plants, Plantbase,Kevin Hughes Plants,Colin Reader with his wildflower meadow seeds and Pineview Plants .

Talented artists and crafts people will be joining us to showcase their work such as the following  : Fiveways artists, Chris Burchell Collins , Si Uwins, Circus Kinetica, Tom Smith ,Jill Tattersall, Barbara Collins, Terrapot,Jackie Sweet willow weaver , Janine Creaye,Sarah Smith and Ken Jaquiery,kate Osborne, Carol Wagstaff , Dave Unsted, Moore Designs , Coalshed pottery ,The Luddite with beautiful reconditioned garden tools and  Michael Ristic  among others.

And for the first time we shall be showcasing some super food suppliers to tempt your taste buds! Such as the wonderful handmade chocolates from Rowdy and Fancys, delicious provsions from Strata and Real Bread from The Real Patisserie!

           Set within the sumptuous naturalistic garden of Sussex Prairies, visitors to the Fair will also be treated to the impressive structural splendours of the architectural grasses in their romantic drifts and the layers of sensual textural planting abounding in this landscape. At this time of year of course, the late perennials and particularly the asters will be at their bold, romantic best!

If you would like more information about the fair, or to talk to Paul or Pauline please call us on 01273 495902 or email usEmail: morlandsfarm@btinternet.com website: www.sussexprairies.co.uk

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