Under Way

I’m rather behind with blogging and as it’s been a while since I posted any photos of the Priory, here’s a quick, excitable splurge; a brisk whizz about the gardens, showing some photos from the past few weeks.


This steep bank below the greenhouses is one of my favourite spots at the Priory. It is no longer strimmed from early spring onwards and has rewarded us with primroses and anemones;

DSM_0164dog violets, a few daffodils and, earlier, crocuses.  A reward for doing nothing.DSM_1075Similarly, bluebells and Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ are spreading and establishing themselves in another patch of uncut grass.


On the meadow, under the huge oak, primroses are on a colonisation quest.  Here the meadow grass doesn’t get so long as to smother them.

DSM_1077They have helped make up for the dearth of daffodils.  I have realised, too late, that a lot of the meadow is simply to wet for the latter.


It is a sodden environment but the fritillaries at least appreciate it;


which, as they are personal favourite, gives me smug pleasure.

DSM_1081Also out on the meadow the ten young fruit trees are blossoming, safe behind their deer barriers.  Apart from quinces, the garden fruit trees didn’t produce any fruit last year.  Not a plum, not an apple, not a pear, not a cherry, not a … well, you get the idea.


I think this year will be better.

DSM_0048Where the drainage is sharper (like here on a sloping lawn beside the drive), daffodils have done better – though my bulb supplier, Philip Nyssen’s quality control seems a little lax*.  These are four pockets of NarcissusIce Follies‘ but, as you can see, a few of another variety have slipped in.  Should I be annoyed?  Should I rant?  Stamp my foot?  Should I rip out the interlopers?  Probably, but that seems churlish and mean-spirited.  They can stay,  I suppose.

DSM_1072On the east lawn where again the drainage is good (there is a ditch cutting across this shot) another introduction is doing well: N. ‘St Patrick’s Day.


My all time favourite daffodil is N.Thalia‘ planted here on the east lawn and I’m pretty fond of

DSM_1079N.Pipit‘ too – doing moderately well on a drier part of the meadow.


Under a large oak these doubles have been here for years.  Even if I liked them (which I don’t)

DSM_0112the flowers are too heavy to stand upright.  What’s the point in that?  Silly things.

DSM_1065The Priory has two Amelanchiers; this one planted too close to the tulip tree by the house

DSM_1073and another smaller one in one of the kidney beds.  Beautiful, huh?

DSM_1092And after last year’s rubbish performance the blackthorn on the river bank has put on a good show this year.  It is getting a little too large – I think next winter I shall lift its crown by a few feet and reveal the mass of wild garlic at its feet.

DSM_1230And finally a shot across the east lawn to the greenhouses – taken yesterday.  Which brings us up to date.  Phew.

Yep, the gardens are certainly under way.  Now, if I can just stay on top of it.

* An addendum.  Within hours of publishing this post, I had a very nice email from Karen at Philip Nyssen, apologising for the strays amongst my Ice Follies and offering replacements.  How gracious – though on reflection, I ought to apologise too. I should have contacted them as soon as the problem became evident rather than waiting almost four years before having an online moan. 

38 thoughts on “Under Way

  1. I am even further behind, but lovely to get glimpses of where you spend your gardening hours. That bank is wonderful, triumph of the art of not-mowing. Had to smile at your wild garlic, I love it but can count the flowers of my newly planted patch without removing my shoes! Looks like a bumper fruit crop in the offing… Thalia is on my autumn wishlist, along with frittilaries.


    • Hi Janet, the wild garlic was almost stomped into oblivion a couple of years back when the post and rail was put in but it seems to have recovered nicely. Have you planted it in your garden? – it is pretty invasive I believe. Having mastered not-mowing, I’m now honing my not-gardening skills. Dave


      • I know, I know, madness, but I love the smell and the taste, and have bunged them in the wilder part of the back garden. They can fight it out with the bindweed, and if it all gets too much I will glysophate the lot!!


  2. Thanks for the tour of the Priory it all looks beautiful. Loving the unmown bits and all the primroses. They are one of my all time favourites. Surprisingly tough little plants, that can cope well with most conditions and they self seed all over. I agree ‘Thalia’ is a stunner. I’m not a great fan of the doubles either. I hope you get some fruit this year. my apple has just come into blossom so I’m hoping that the frost doesn’t get the flowers and that there are enough bees around to pollinate them.


    • Since I wrote this, WW it has become so very cold again that I do worry about all that blossom getting pollinated. My previous certainty that this was going to be a bumper cropping year has taken a knock. D


  3. That garden is a lot of work I’m sure, but it’s beautiful. I stopped mowing an area in my yard one summer and was amazed by all the wildflowers that grew there. I like the embankement.
    Why didn’t you get any fruit on the trees last year? Did you have a late cold snap or a lot of rain?


    • We had a strange year in 2012, Allen. Sussex was declared a drought zone in April and then it rained pretty much the rest of the spring and summer. It was a lousy year for fruit generally in the UK – May was so wet that I guess bees etc found it near impossible to pollinate anything. Dave


  4. Lovely pictures – and the bank looks lovely with all the spring flowers. The garden is leaping and bounding, it’s a whirlwind trying to keep up suddenly isn’t it? I’m hoping the wind drops enough to take some photos here soon or some favourites will have come and gone before I have a chance!


  5. Everything is looking so spring-like! I would love to have an Amelanchia. I looked for ages in nurseries here and never found one, then I was reading a gardening magazine here and realised that it was considered a fruit tree and therefore available from different suppliers! Keep up the good work, btw how are your peppers and aubergines doing? Mine are in the ground! Christina


    • Really, Christina? I used to work at a nursery and we didn’t keep the amelanchiers amongst the fruit trees still, I guess they can keep them where they like. I’ve been having trouble getting hold of greenhouse netting for the new greenhouse (for shade) but finally found some the other day (at huge expense!). So I shall be planting out aubergines and sweet and chilli peppers next week. Tomatoes and cucumbers are doing fine in the old greenhouse. Dave


  6. Lovely to see the Amelanchier in flower. I’ve just bought 2 of them to plant. Everything is looking great there. Spring bulbs are such a wonderful harbinger of a new gardening year beginning.


    • The meadow is difficult to manage, Amelia just because of the annual mowing and removal of the hay. But the bank and various other bits of grass/lawn that I leave just require a strim when they are over. Dave


      • I’m very interested as I want to introduce some natural spring flowers under deciduous trees at the bottom of my garden. It will be a long job as I will have to tear up ivy each time I manage to plant anything. I don’t mind grass and weed growing as well if it just needs to be strimmed but I want to get rid of the monoculture of ivy.


        • Oh, I see. The garden contractors who worked at the Priory before me, strimmed and mowed pretty much everything (they had a penchant for strimming rose bushes, daffodils and herbacious plants and ring barking trees). But just by leaving areas alone wild flowers have sprung back. Perhaps you could strim the ivy first (assuming you have a petrol strimmer – I’m not sure an electric one could manage ivy). If and when it comes back it’d be weaker and more manageable and in the meantime you could introduce whatever you like. D


  7. Absolutely fantastic, your bank of primroses is amazing and will get better and better each year now. Amelanchier are my favourite trees, they have so much to offer all year round don’t they? I just love spring time in England, the best place to be!


  8. Yes, your Amelanchiers are beautiful Dave, as is everything else, to me. The entire setting is just asking to grow all it can. I can see why you’d cut back the blackthorn next year, but it’s wondrous, nonetheless. From here, where colour and form fade, wilt, dissipate, it’s amazing to see so much flourishing with such boldness.


    • Well, it has been a long wait Faisal. The blackthorn blossom seems to have migrated up the trees which makes me think I may clear it lower down – and the wild garlic is rather beautiful. Dave


  9. You are barely ahead of me, surprisingly, although my amelanchier is still budding. Unless, of course, you took those pictures some days ago! Interested that your e.pagoda spreads naturally. Mine has to be split. N.’Ice Follies’ is easily my favourite. If you pick them and bring them inside, they remain pure white in the vase. Very beautiful.


    • Ah, interesting Mr K. You are right, I think. What I took to be an increase in E. pagoda may well be ones that I planted some time ago now and are only now showing. I shall split the one above in a year or two – thanks for the tip. Many of the photos are a few weeks old but the amelanchier ones are current. Dave


    • Thanks Helen. They are smart aren’t they? All bought online – I was pleased with them. I worried that in a few years time (after I’ve left) there was a danger that no-one would know the variety names of the fruit trees. Dave


  10. Crikey the greenhouses are a bit close to that steep bank aren’t they – or is it an optical illusion. The bank looks lovely – nature knows how to do it best.


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