The September ‘GARDEN WOW’ list – Our Wow’s from the Landscaping and Garden Design Industry

September ‘GARDEN WOW’ list

Firstly and most importantly we hope you and your loved ones are all keeping well and safe. We have continued to find much solice in the stopping and looking at nature in all it’s glory during these very uncertain times. This little ‘drunk on pollen’ bee was a wonderful WOW stop and look moment captured at Sussex Prairie Garden earlier this Summer, a real WOW GARDEN featured below. We are really delighted to welcome you again to our‘GARDEN WOW’ list – a curated list of all the things we find fascinating, helpful and which make us go WOW from the Garden Design and Landscaping Industries. This list also features our very own local Lewes and Sussex Landscape, which we are constantly in awe of. Hands up, this list aims to be monthly, but a little thing called home schooling might just have got in the way! So really this is the June, July, August and September list, so it’s full of WOW’S! We hope you enjoy.

Things that made us go ‘WOW’ in June, July, August and September

Rewilding WOW:

We were incredibly lucky to be invited to go and stay at Knepp Wildland on the Knepp Estate in August. Knepp is a 3,500 acre estate situated in West Sussex. It went through a radical shift in the 90’s where the owners made the decision to undertake a rewilding of the landscape, having spent years unsucessfully intensively farming it. The results are astounding and the impact on nature huge. The book Wilding by Isabella Tree documents the project and this film really highlights how incredibly successful it has been. The film shows what can happen when you let nature take the driving seat, do have a watch if you can. This was an amazing opportunity post lockdown to wild swim in the campsite lake and take long walks in scrub and woodland where we delighted in seeing a family of Tamworth pigs, large herds of fallow deer, long horned cattle and a huge variety of birds and butterflies. We had a real WOW moment when we spotted a number of white storks introduced to Knepp as part of the White Stork Project, and it was rather lovely to take part in a staring competition with a red deer stag. Knepp’s approach is really different to normal nature conservation and the results are fascinating. It has a range of opportunities for relaxed camping, glamping and safaris, but you can also access the 16 miles of public and permissive footpaths. We will definitely be going back for long walks to see this beautiful nature filled landscape again.

Hubbery Cafe WOW:

We were really happy to recently discover a new cafe in Barcombe, East Sussex. It is currently open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-5pm and provides delicious Swedish fika and Autumnal lunches. Fika is a Swedish tradition which is about pausing and having coffee and cake with friends and family. The Hubbery Cafe provides a lovely space with outdoor seating and stunning WOW factor planting with a wild garden area simply teeming with wildlife. A great stopping point for cyclists too. This Saturday 12th September there will be kids’ art activities provided by the So Sussex Team and The Spithurst Hub’s resident artists are having their studios open, so a good weekend to go.

Lewes Landscape WOW:

When our children were smaller, we came across the most stunning field full of poppies with a path running straight through the middle, they preceded to run and hide and have a magical time. This Summer, although no poppies were found, the landscape around Lewes definitely provided a WOW.  We have explored it’s beauty on lovely long walks on The South Downs and discovered new pathways and places to be. We’ve loved the wild flowers and slowly changing colours as they develop. Our favourire flower is the beautiful Wild carrot (Daucus carota), unlike the carrot we eat, this wild versions root is not edible. Many of you will know this plant as Queen Anne’s lace, the origin of which is said to be when Queen Anne (married to James I) pricked her finger and stained some lace with her blood. Thanks to the brilliant organisation Plantlife for that fun fact. Do check out their great  seasonal spotter sheets, which you can download every month to help you identify the wild flowers in bloom near you. Now the season is starting to change we’re looking forward to the dance of The South Downs grasses in the wind and the changing leaves on the Trees.

Barbican WOW:

And now for something a little different. We had a lovely few days in London last month and discovered the WOW of the Barbican conservatory. What a lovely place. Having both lived in London for years, we have no idea why we’d never been before! It’s free to go if you book a slot, but be quick as it closes for this year on 20th September 2020. Fantastic inspiration if you have a conservatory and of course a great place to see what house plants you might like to try.

If you are based in the South East why not check out the amazing From Victoria a most beautiful shop in Lewes, it has a lovely selection of house plants and many other very beautiful things. Keeping it local is more important then ever these days.

This was also an opportunity to see the work of Nigel Dunnett at The Barbican. Do check out his website page ‘The Barbican – A public realm transformation’  as it describes the project in detail and has some great images that capture the changing look of the space through the seasons. We love it and whenever we are near we go and see how it has developed. A real garden design inspiration. We are really pleased  to discover that Nigel Dunnett is involved in the Valley Gardens project in Brighton as the specialist planting lead. We are looking forward to seeing the project when it fully opens. Watch this space for news on this.

Sussex Prairies Garden WOW:

Back to a much more local garden WOW. Sussex Prairie Garden based in Henfield, is a real favourite of ours. It’s open until 11th October when it closes for the year, so do try and check it out. No need to book. It’s closed on Tuesdays and open Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sat from 1pm-5pm and Sunday 11am-5pm. Serving drinks and delicious home made cakes from a kiosk, with plenty of chairs outside, it’s a very lovely day out and also great for children because of the hide and seek paths in the large deep borders. Dogs are welcome too. If you are an RHS Member you get in free as part of the excellent RHS Partner Garden Scheme.

Sowing Seeds WOW:

One of the heartwarming things about lockdown was the strengthening of the community in Lewes where we live. Whats app groups were set up and they were a real source of support for many people. They also became a place where people offered thing they didn’t need. We jumped at the chance to get some Sunflower seedlings from our friend Jason Mosseri of Hope Spring Chairs

The sunflowers that developed were really beautiful, big bold, defiant and definitely had the WOW factor. They were also a source of wonderful nourishment for the buzzing bees in our garden. Seeing them grow and open as the weeks past became a lovely daily ritual. This year we sowed more seeds in our garden then ever before. Some survived and flourished and others got swept away by the heavy rain. it’s definately a journey mixed with failure and success for us! We are planning to continue sowing seeds and are going to try growing some hardy annuals this month. If you too are interested in sowing hardy annuals then check out the RHS guide about what seeds to sow in September and the best way to do it. We are going to try out one of our favourite plants, the beautiful Ammi majus. A lovely annual plant which is a fantastic addition to a perennial border.

We just want to highlight that Jason (giver of Sunflowers) is a maker of the MOST lovely hand made chairs and stools. Check out the six day chair making course he runs located in an ancient Sussex Woodland. They are all sold out for this year, but worth asking about next!

Butterfly WOW:

White Admiral catepillar, Photograph by Michael Blencoe

And finally to end this with a flutter! Apparently 2020 was the best Summer for butterflies for 25 years.  Many of the white butterfly species are still really enjoying our garden. Our butterfly WOW was discovering A Beginners Guide to Sussex Butterlies created by butterfly expert Michael Blencoe of the Sussex Wildlife Trust. Love this picture taken by him! This free online 8 part course not only helps with butterfly identification, but also gives absolutely brilliant facts and insights into their lifestyles. Do check it out, we have learned so much already and still have more episodes to watch! Who knew that when you see woodland butterflies ‘dancing’ they are actually battling and sparing and that butterflies make hissing noises by rubbing their wings together. Some fascinating and funny facts to be learned (and those are just in part 1!). It has made us look even more closely at the butterflies around us. Michael highlights the incredible painted lady butterfly invasion of 2009, where an army of 8 million painted lady butterfles invaded Sussex. This was something that the Knepp estate was particularly thankful for as they dessimated the creeping thistle in what was called a buttefly blizzard, an example of nature being in the driving seat. This kind of mass invasion happens every decade, so we are due another one soon! Watch out!

May your September be a safe one.

Sophie and Simon




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