Pauline and her husband Paul met each other abroad and worked together for 12 years in Luxembourg in the garden of a Swedish owner, including two years teamed up with the esteemed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf. They then decided to return to Britain to the small farm in West Sussex where Pauline was born and had grown up. Here in 2007 they began to create an innovative and beautiful prairie garden.
Prairie gardens are new, few and far between. Of only six listed by the RHS one is in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Germany. For many of us The Little House on the Prairie’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder was as much as we knew about prairies. They are wide open grasslands and here at Sussex Prairie Garden grasses constitute around 30 per cent of the planting, the matrix in which are planted perennial flowers that love the open space and the full sun.
The garden has a straight central axis planted with hornbeam hedges and orderly hornbeam trees. Outwith the axis the garden takes the form of spiral arms which are, according to Paul, based on the Fibonnaci numbers (1,1,2,3,5,8,13…..), a spiral form similar to but not the same as the Golden Spiral seen by some members on the visit to Theobald’s Farmhouse in 2019. Galaxies, such as our own Milky Way, are spirals and by association this brings a celestial aura to the Sussex Prairie Garden. The McBrides are building a tower so, before long, it will be possible to gaze down upon the garden from a heavenly viewpoint.