There is Life After the Burn: Sussex Prairies

Nature is just magical isn’t it?  Nothing seems to prevent it from rejuvenating itself no matter what is thrown at it, including flame throwers… read on, all will be explained!

Last September I visited Sussex Prairies, an awesome 6 acre expanse of naturally planted perennials such as Rudbeckia, Helenium and Echinacea and an enormous variety of  tall grasses.   The muted colours mixed with the swaying  grasses  is a breathtaking sight.

Sussex Prairies – September 2011

Where do flame throwers come into all of this?   Every year, in January, the garden is burned down to the ground,  all the grasses and the dried seed heads of the plants that have been left on over the Winter are attacked with flame throwers.    Then, a miracle happens – it all grows back.

Sussex Prairies – May 2012

The garden is not open to the public until 1st June, but Pauline McBride, was kind enough to allow me to visit and take photos of how the garden is looking at the moment, I even had tea and homemade biscuits.     Pauline, and her husband Paul, planted Sussex Prairies in 2008, and now take on horticultural interns to help them with the running of the Prairies – even a natural garden requires lots of work.

It was amazing to see the size of the garden, which is something you can’t do when everything has grown to its full height.   When in its full glory you can wander around all the beds and see something different down the paths that feed you around the garden.

Sussex Praries – September 2011

Sussex Prairies – May 2012

This is not just a Prairie Garden.  Pauline and Paul also run a bed and breakfast complete with bacon and eggs, all home sourced.

They also run events such as  The Blackfoot Lodge and Spirit of the West camp there with their tepees and totem poles one weekend in July and again in September.    I can imagine that a visit on those weekends will be great and make you wonder if you are in England or been transported to the American Plains.

During the open season there are also some exciting courses which include pottery, felt making, painting and  a day retreat.

Sussex Prairies, near Henfield in West Sussex, are open from 1 June 2012 to 14 October 2012 from 1 pm to 5 pm every day.    There is also a great tea room, where you can sit outside and look at the vista, while eating delicious home made cakes.

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