Wild flowers, spiked trees and curious collections (or: For the love of the Grange)

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The Grange’s formal planting was one described by a friend as ‘looking like sweeties’. So true!

Southover Grange Gardens is a jewel in this town’s crown, which says a lot about it, given Lewes’s overall beauty. For those of you who either don’t live here or have visited and not found it yet, it is a walled garden of ‘rooms’ that are bounteously planted up in an ordered, ornamental fashion. It makes us feel better about our extortionate council tax. My children and I have been going there at least weekly since we moved here – except in really horrible weather – and my favourite thing about it is that every time we go, even if it’s twice in the same day, the Grange somehow has something new to show us.

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The wild flower circle, where apparently wild strawberries have been planted

On Monday I met a friend there after school drop-off. The tea hatch wasn’t open yet and the whole place was fresh, still and unruffled. My toddler wandered off to the far end and into a circle of wild flowers that begins its life each year as a shout of yellow daffs before becoming studded with bright poppies, only to be replaced by its current incarnation as a disc of daisies. Having been camping last weekend, and with a meadow to run freely in, I wasn’t too surprised that he chose this wilder part of the Grange over its more manicured sections.

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Stuck

Fast-forward six hours and we were back, this time post drop-off. The Grange was jumping with icecream-intent school kids that the tea hatch patiently humoured, who leapt over newly-planted beds from stone walls, scooted the perimeter, and got stuck in the yew tree (its spiky upward-facing branches have me in constant fear for little goolies). It reminded me of the first time we came to Lewes with our six-month-old baby, and wandered through the Grange bang on 3.30pm. Did such a town really exist, that children can be released from school at the end of the day into so pretty a play space?

Life has raced on, and five years later, my kid is one of those children. And here I am, for the second time, in that toddler moment where the Grange is a bit of a bore – so many corners to hide around, and what with him always wanting to do what the older kids do, I am constantly being summoned over to statues or walls that the little one is hanging off mid-climb to help him to the top or bring him down to safety. Not that conducive to chatting.

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On the way out, I was also reminded of a time when my older son was about two, and we spent a couple of hours in the Knot Garden collecting snail shells and feathers, which we stuffed in an empty beaker and then sorted into an empty 12-egg box when we got home. There, on a tree trunk that he now always has to climb on the way out towards Keere Street, another child had placed two collections – one of different leaves neatly laid out by colour, and another of seeds, petals and flower buds. “Who had done this?” he and my sometimes-daughter asked. “Was it fairies? Elves?”

‘No,’ I thought. ‘Just someone who left their collection for us to find, instead of taking it home and putting it in an egg box.’

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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