Welcome to The Sussex Peasant

Many of you will have noticed the arrival of The Sussex Peasant on Saturdays from 9 to 4 near the North car park. They sell produce that is sourced exclusively from Sussex. As they say on their website, ‘Our farming is sustainable, our food is traceable, our approach is socially and environmentally minded.’ Can’t be bad.

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A peek inside the Walled Garden

You probably know the walled garden, tucked away as it is at the north end of Preston Park. You’ll know that it is a very special place, full of gorgeous plants. It is lovingly cared for throughout the year by George Harris who is helped by Clare Hughes.

But did you know that the site itself – the original church and surrounding buildings – has a history going back more than 1000 years? The walled garden is first recorded in an image dated 1617. You can see that the layout is more-or-less how it is today, a parterre style which was popular in the 1500’s.

The walls to the south, east and north of the garden date from the 16th century and are listed.

The current gardens were designed by the Stanfords, who owned and resided at Preston Manor. They also had a villa in Madeira and were very interested in plants. They arranged for plants to be brought over from Madeira and replanted in the walled garden. Which is why the garden has a vaguely exotic feel and is home to some interesting and unusual plants and shrubs.

When the garden was bequeathed by the Stanfords to Brighton Corporation (as it then was) in 1933 it was with the stipulation that the garden should not be altered from how it was when the last Stanford – Ellen – died. Since then care has been taken to ensure that any plants introduced to the garden are historically accurate. It has been said that the ‘ebullient, informal planting . . . is distinctly Edwardian. .’

The garden used to be a bit bigger than you see it today, with more lily ponds. The London to Brighton road was widened in the 1882 and 1972 which meant that the western wall was rebuilt to accommodate the new road.

About 20 years’ ago the garden was awarded Heritage Lottery funding. It was repaired and restored, and the role of chief gardener established.

On Saturday 22 June you’ll be very welcome to take a closer look at the garden and speak to the volunteers who, every Tuesday morning, work alongside George to help care for this wonderful space.

The poignant pet cemetery

Thanks to Sue Shepherd for this post

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Polina and friends – at the Preston Village Open Day

Polina and friends, on flute and strings, will be performing for us at the Preston Village Open Day on 22nd June in the walled garden of Preston Manor. Do come along to hear them play and to sample the many other attractions for the day.

Polina Loubnina is a flute player originally from Siberia, who has performed in numerous theatre productions in Saint Petersburg, lectured music in Namibia, where she lived for 20 years, and recorded a number of tracks for various artists in diverse genres of music -African, traditional, classic and contemporary experimental. She is mostly known for her lead in the world music scene through internationally acclaimed band Elemotho (see Elemotho.youtube), headlining at WOMAD in the UK in 2013. She now lives in Brighton where she continues to work on a wide variety of projects. She also teaches flute.

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The urns are back

Last year, one of these urns, near the Rotunda Cafe, was accidentally broken. Well, we’re glad to say that they’re back!

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Rose Garden in full bloom

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Photo Competition 2019

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Tidy Up Team

The Tidy up Team is a scheme to provide volunteer litter-pickers with the tools, materials, information and support they will need to autonomously litter-pick in green spaces across the city. Already more than 170 volunteers have done the training and received their Tidy Up Team kits. At present Preston Park is the only green space in the city that has a Tidy Up Team Superbin, where all the tools and equipment to litter-pick are also stored. Full details of how to get involved can be found on the council website https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/tidy-up-team

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Volunteer gardening

We have been busy helping Andy Jeavons, Preston Park’s Garden Manager, to set up two new volunteer garden groups to help bring back some colour to Preston Park. Andy already has a long-established volunteer gardening group at the Rockery, which meets on Wednesday mornings, and has now set up two new groups:

  • Tuesday mornings in the Rose Garden;
  • Thursday mornings to work on the front flower beds, areas around the tennis courts and any other areas within the park which have horticultural value.

If you would like to join one of the groups, they both meet at 10am to 1 pm, unless it’s raining. The Tuesday group meet in the Rose Garden by the pond and Thursday meet by the Rock Garden chalet. Tools are provided and you just need to come along suitably dressed. If you can only stay part of the time, you will still be most welcome. The groups are very friendly, guidance and training is given, and the exercise and fresh air is great!

If you are interested please contact Andy directly on a.jeavons@sky.com.

On the subject of volunteer groups, we must not forget those that operate in the walled garden of Preston Manor, expertly managed by George Harris and Clare Hughes.

As you will all be aware, local Council financial cuts have hit all parks and green open spaces hard, and are unlikely to improve in the short term; so, if we want Preston Park to thrive, it can only be achieved through volunteer groups.

If we have enough volunteers, we hope to be able to run more groups, but we first need to find people to train up as leaders, as Andy alone cannot supervise any more groups for now. Training can be provided by City Parks in subjects such as leaderships skills and health and safety, and we will be talking to City Parks about this soon. We also have further ideas for Preston Park and will keep you informed as they develop.

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Painted faces

Thanks to Deborah at Tick Boom Face Painting who sent us these amazing photos from this year’s Easter event:

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Easter Egg Hunt, Sunday 21st April

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