Tag Archive: sussex


Some pleasing pictures from my good friend Jen…sorry we couldn’t join you, but thanks for the pictures!

Old School Gardener

Further information: Sheffield Park website

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We had a stimulating walk around Brighton with friends Dave and Jen,recently, and I took the chance to capture some interesting shop, house and other frontages..enjoy.

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Old School Gardener

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On a recent trip to see our friends Dave and Jen in Sussex we stopped off to visit Standen House and Gardens, near to East Grinstead.

This ‘Arts and Crafts’ family home has a lovely range of interiors, dressed for a weekend stay in 1925, so you can imagine you are a guest of the Beale family. There is excellent attention to detail in the furnishing of the rooms. James and Margaret Beale chose an idyllic location with views across the Sussex countryside for their rural retreat. Designed by Philip Webb, the house is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts workmanship, with Morris & Co. interiors creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

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After a stimulating tour of the house we enjoyed a light lunch before venturing out into the gardens. A major restoration of the 5-hectare (12-acre) hillside garden showcases year-round seasonal highlights and an award-winning plant collection. On our visit the autumnal colours of the many Acers was a highlight. On the wider estate, footpaths lead out into the woodlands, Ashdown Forest and wider High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

49bef9cfc989acf6a48a3670e7b1f02dNo garden is complete- in my view- without some plants you can eat. Even if it’s only the leaves of herbs or flower petals to garnish a ‘happy salad’, growing our own food has to be a part of the essence of gardening. So today’s object is a traditional garden trug, used to gather in the fruits (and veg) of your labours.

The traditional trug has an interesting history:

‘Way back in the heydays of the 1820’s, just before Queen Victoria ascended to the English Throne, a Man of Sussex, one Thomas Smith of Herstmonceux, made a decision about his life that was to have a profound effect on Sussex and the World.   He invented the Sussex Trug!   Taking an ancient idea dating back to Anglo Saxon times, Thomas redesigned the historic “trog” and in so doing he created a part of the English gardening scene that is now World famous!   

 The “trog” was a wooden vessel hewn from solid timber in the shape of the round coracle boat that the Anglo Saxons used for their daily business.   Because of the way these “trogs” were made they were very heavy.   They were used by Sussex farmers to measure grain and liquids and were made in several sizes for different measures.   They continued in use in this form until the mid-1600’s and we have been able to uncover an inventory from a farm in Newhaven, East Sussex at about that time where there were recorded “a dozen of trogs in the milking parlour”. 

 Thomas Smith re-invented the “trog” carefully designing a lightweight basket using Sweet Chestnut (Castanea Sativa) and Cricket Bat Willow (Salix Coerulea)….’

Thomas Smith- The Royal Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

Thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from my wife, I now have two of these lovely baskets at Old School Garden. It is a joy taking them out into the garden, from early summer, to harvest  fresh produce and then use it as quickly as possible in the day’s main meal. Celebrity gardener Bob Flowerdew underlines the importance of getting your pickings as quickly as you can from plot to saucepan to maximise the sweetness; as soon as it’s picked a sweetcorn’s, or whatever’s natural sugars start to convert to starch.

I guess the trug is a good token for all the other containers we use in the garden (including the modern day plastic trug); whether it be to carry flowers, tools, weeds, compost and so on.

But most importantly, it is the symbol of all that’s good in ‘growing your own’ and the freshness and flavour that comes from this small contribution to world food production.

Further information:

History of the Sussex Trug

 Old School Gardener

Southover Grange Gardens, Lewes, Sussex, recently

Southover Grange Gardens, Lewes, Sussex, recently

The chalk cliffs at Rottingdean, recently.

The chalk cliffs at Rottingdean, recently.

Four gulls on a groyne, Rottingdean, recently.

Four gulls on a groyne, Rottingdean, recently.

Fishermen on a groyne at Rottingdean, Sussex recently...

Fishermen on a groyne at Rottingdean, Sussex recently…

Carved lawn rollers by sculptor Eric Gill, at Ditchling Arts and Crafts Museum, Sussex

Carved lawn rollers by sculptor Eric Gill, at Ditchling Arts and Crafts Museum, Sussex

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Elliptical food growing in the walled garden at Gravetye Manor, former home of ‘natural’ gardener William Robinson

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