Sussex Prairies, here we come!

Having spent about an hour at Nyman’s garden, we then made our way to the garden that I have read about in all the gardening magazines –Sussex Prairies – and have been wanting to visit ever since it was made in 2008.

Sussex Prairies

Sussex prairies

When you read so much about a garden, sometimes when you visit it can be a disappointment, no such worries here, as soon as I stepped in amongst the borders, it was just WOW all the way round!

Sussex prairies

The garden was once one of the fields at the farm and has been designed as a spiral with paths through all the borders so that you can get close and personal with the plants.


There were a few sculptures around the garden, some appealed to me, some didn’t. I thought some went with the setting whereas some looked wrong somehow.

Sussex prairies

I liked the contrast of textures and colours, the contrast between the grasses and the flowers, as you can see, everything was planted in very large groups which you can do when you have 6 acres to play with!


The giraffe looked at home striding amongst the grasses.

Sussex prairies

Lots of asters of all colours along with echinacea  ……


……which were beautiful, mine were finished in the garden a long time ago.

Sussex prairies

This view of their pond reminds me to move the Persicaria that I have right at the top of the garden back to the border by the field where I had originally planted it.


Rudbeckia and asters go so well together, needless to say, the garden was buzzing everywhere with bees of every kind.


Just a little niggle, why had hostas been planted here? First of all they were planted in full sunshine, not in the shade of other plants and also I don’t think hostas can be described as “prairie plants” – what do you think? Maybe they wanted the contrast of the large leaves with the other planting but I felt they spoiled this area.


A lovely greyhound emerging from the central border. I wish I was 10 ft taller then I would have been able to show you an overview of all the colour spiraling around.

Sussex prairies

The owners planted 30,000 plants, 600 different varieties, with the help of 40 friends, it was certainly worth it.


Such a large planting of asters was certainly appreciated by the bees.

Sussex prairies

Sussex prairies

This view shows beautiful contrast of textures, this garden has shown me that I need more grasses mingling with my perennials.

White echinacea

If you look into the distance, there are some lovely blue flowers which drew me over to them and also some large allium seedheads.

Copper seedheads

I’m trying to persuade someone that he really would like to make me some allium seedheads this winter, copper piping and copper nails is all it takes!

Salvia uliginosa

The lovely blue flowers that I spotted were Salvia uliginosa and they were covered with masses of bees. This is the one plant that I bought, I was told it wasn’t reliably hardy, so not to plant it until next spring. There are so many side shoots that I will use for cuttings, so maybe by next spring I will have enough plants to make a drift!

Sussex prairies

Sussex prairies

Sussex prairies

Sussex prairies

I hope you can understand why I was completely bowled over and captivated by the planting, but how do I condense all this into a border about 100ft long and 6 to 8 ft wide! I already have some of these plants, so moving a few, taking cuttings and sowing seed should mean that I don’t need to buy many. It is a beautiful garden for this time of year, there were lots of seedheads from plants that had already flowered which added to the overall texture. I believe it is all cut to the ground in the spring, leaving the seeds for the birds in the winter, which should mean that it is a relatively low maintenance garden.


It was now time to catch a ferry over to the Isle of Wight and say goodbye to Portsmouth on the mainland. Forty five minutes later we were on our way once more driving towards our holiday cottage at Haddon Lake House, another house and garden which has been in all the gardening magazines, books and on TV. We knew we had arrived when we saw the planting round the car parking area, if the planting in this area was so good, I could hardly wait to see the rest!

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26 Responses to Sussex Prairies, here we come!

  1. Christina says:

    Thanks for sharing this garden Pauline, defiantely one to add to my wish list for garden visits. I was wondering if the ‘Hosta’ were actually Veratrum (difficult to tell from the image). But whatever they are I agree with you that they seem out of place.

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, I think you would enjoy it on one of your visits. I’ve looked at the photos again and still think they are hostas, they are also some more in the photo of the copper allium heads and the dead flower heads seem to be the right height.

  2. Cathy says:

    How lovely Pauline – and the large swathes look stunning, don’t they? As you say, with 6 acres to play with you can afford to be generous with your planting, subject to having 60,000 x ££ to play with – and 40 friends of course! I too like the allium sculpture, and will keep a copy of your picture if that is OK – along with the carved wooden lotus seedpods I saw at Barnsdale this is a potentially achievable future project… I look forward to seeing your lovely cottage in your next post 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      It did all look stunning Cathy, such a wonderful mix of colours and textures and movement from all the grasses blowing in the breeze, it was wonderful. Please use the picture, hope it will be of use to you, I have a feeling yours will be made first!

  3. Cathy says:

    Very inspiring Pauline! I definitely like those grasses in the last photo – I think they would break up a long border nicely to provide contrast and a “rest” from all the colourful flowers.

    • Pauline says:

      They had some beautiful grasses Cathy, creating movement with a rustling sound as well as contrasting with the flowers, I must read up on them before buying!

  4. Annette says:

    Well, absolutely stunning the planting and even without getting to your text I felt uneasy when I saw the Hosta but other than that it’s so enjoyable. I think this type of planting works especially well on a grand scale too. Thanks for taking me along, very inspiring visit.

    • Pauline says:

      It certainly did work Annette, on a large scale but I’m hoping to scale it down a bit, my clumps don’t need to be quite so large! Glad you enjoyed the visit, it was good that we had the chance to go at last and see a really good late season garden.

  5. debsgarden says:

    Pauline, this is truly an inspirational garden. I love how all the large swathes of flowers and grasses flow into each other. I also admire the allium sculpture. I agree the hostas don’t belong; their browning leaves are crying out for shade!

    • Pauline says:

      It is inspirational isn’t it Deb, I have come back with so many ideas! I felt so sorry for the hostas being in the sun all summer, they didn’t look happy at all. I’m sure the allium sculpture could be made by a handyman or woman, who knows, I might get one yet!

  6. Angie says:

    What a place!! It’s hardly surprising you want to create such effects in your garden. I wish you well in deciding what you are going to do – I’d be lost trying to recreate it.
    Some Hostas will take full sun, providing the position is moist enough. I’ve tried it in my garden and it works. Oddly enough – I have a Hosta growing with some persicaria!

    • Pauline says:

      It was a super garden Angie, I can’t possibly recreate it, but maybe a few ideas can be introduced to give the same sort of effect. I know some hostas can take some sun, but these just didn’t look happy at all, and I also realise they are dying back at the moment, but I felt they just looked wrong in the bright sunlight and they must have had a lot of sun this summer.

  7. Sally says:

    They did such a wonderful job on the beds! It would be nice to bring a picnic lunch and sit among them while eating. It also makes me want to plant a field of asters…..
    I do hear you about the buffalo……I stared for a while thinking I couldn’t be seeing that right….then I thought perhaps I was mistaken and you weren’t in England!

    • Pauline says:

      Sally, that’s a great idea, having a picnic amongst all the plants! I quite liked the buffalo, from one side, from the other you could see all the structure that was holding them up. I didn’t photograph the sculptures that didn’t appeal to me. Yes, I was in England, about half way along the south coast.

  8. Lovely gardens. Thanks for taking me along with you. Blessings, Natalie

  9. Wow. So much that is totally drool-worthy. I too have seen and read loads about this garden, thank you for your images and words, it really is magnificent. I wasn’t sure about all the sculpture, but the planting is wonderful. Interestingly the images that I kept scrolling back to were the ones in which only two or three plants were showing, the calmer, simpler combinations. Much food for thought. And I can’t wait to read your post(s) on Haddon, another place I have drooled over, images of it are in my dream house file!

    • Pauline says:

      Oh, Janet, you sound just like me! I think we all want “one of everything” when we first start gardening, I know I did, and it has taken me 20yrs or so to realise that ” less is more”! The message I came away with was that I should have larger groups of less varieties. Haddon was good, I’m just doing the post about it at the moment, it’s amazing how images that we see in magazines stay with us for years.

  10. Gitte says:

    What a lovely garden. I expecially like the last 4 pictures from the garden, with the grasses and big swathes of flowers. I too would like more grasses in my own garden. As I have sandy soil, I guess I could have a sort of prairie garden.

    • Pauline says:

      Gitte, your garden would be ideal if you have sandy soil, to make a prarie border. It was lovely to wander round so close to the flowers and grasses and be among them, a wonderful experience.

  11. Anna says:

    Oh wow indeed Pauline! All so glorious but I especially like the planting in the bottom photo as well as those alliums. Have read a lot about this garden too and from what you say it lives up to expectations. Have a big birthday coming up next year and himself has promised me a trip to Sissinghurst, which I’ve read about for years but have never visited. Will have to have a look on a map and see exactly where Sussex Prairies is. We saw the IOW ferry this summer as we were returning to Portsmouth from France. Isn’t the Spinnaker Tower a great landmark?

    • Pauline says:

      It was a wonderful visit Anna, just the inspiration I needed! Sussex Prairies is in West Sussex and Sissinghurst in East Sussex, but I’m not sure how far apart they are. The Spinnaker Tower is magnificent, a really good example of modern architecture, I was very surprised when we sailed right by it.

  12. pbmgarden says:

    Pauline, I would be giddy with delight in this garden. I’ve grown Salvia uliginosa for almost 20 years. It spreads easily here and I have to be “severe” with it every once in a while. But the bees do love it and it fills in parts of my border when not much else is going on. Would love to have run to plant a large swath of it. Good luck with yours and thanks for the look at this garden. Susie

    • Pauline says:

      Susie, it was fantastic, I just didn’t know which way to look, everything was so beautiful! Its good to know that Salvia uliginosa fills spaces in your borders, I don’t think it will survive the frosts here, so cuttings will be essential, I will try mulching to see if it survives our winters.

  13. Annie_H says:

    I’ve heard so much about Sussex Prairies and it certainly looks a stunning garden and I always like to see some sculpture in a garden, I did like those Alliums. The blue on that Salvia that you took home was a lovely colour, I’m a sucker for blue flowers. What a treat.

    • Pauline says:

      Sussex Prairies has been on my visiting list, Annie for a good number of years and it lived up to expectations., I hope I can do it justice! There really is no excuse any more for me not to have a stunning late border!

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