This week I am in the company of Pauline and Paul McBride at their Sussex Prairie Gardens.
Pauline can barely contain her excitement “The garden is special at the moment – full of flowers, the wonderful mass planting with swathes of grasses, Echinacea and Rudbeckia. It’s beautiful to walk through the borders and get up close with the plants. The gentle breeze gives movement to the garden. It’s a visual spectacle, a sensory overload with the sound of the insects, the scent and touch of the plants. I walk the garden every morning and it still takes my breath away.”
Their home, Morlands Farm Dutch Barn and the Tower have just been celebrated taking home South East Award Winner, Small Project of the Year and Client of the Year in RIBA’s 2022 South East Regional Awards, and a coveted Sussex Heritage Trust Award.
Sandy Rendel Architects converted a Dutch Barn into a new home for Pauline and Paul. Pauline is full of praise for Sandy Rendel and Robert Longley of Cranbrook Iron in Kent.
Pauline explains “Paul and Rob built the tower over the period of a week – a true labour of love – handmade!” Reminiscent of an agricultural grain silo the viewing tower encapsulates the joyful nature of this architectural project and the gardens.
Paul and Pauline share their Sussex Prairie Gardens abundantly. Pauline says “The students who come to the gardens are fabulous. This year they’ve come from all over including France, China and India. I continue to be amazed by these young people and the boundless possibilities of their lives. We love working with them. We try to reach out and connect people.”
Pauline talks about The Indian Bazaar which is at the heart of a month long festival which runs until the 4th September. She describes the scene “The marquees are overflowing with ethically commissioned and sourced decorative objects and clothing for sale – all delicious, gorgeous, shinning, and glittering.”
Friendships like communities are bound together by shared stories. It is the vision and gentle patronage of Pauline and Paul McBride, and their desire to share the joy of the garden they have created, which has brought such beauty to our built and natural landscape and a community together.
Gardens are places of blessing, invitation, hospitality and encounter, and none more so than the Sussex Prairie Gardens, Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road, Henfield, West Sussex, BN5 9AT. To find out more and to plan your visit sussexprairies.co.uk