Free Talks at The Garden Show at Firle Place 2019


Daily (Fri, Sat & Sun) 3:00pm


Firle Place: Gentry in a Landscape – Firle & its People

with Dr Geoffrey Mead – Guide at Firle Place

Looking at the history of the Gage family and how it arrived at Firle in the 15th century, the development of the house into the building we see today and what treasures are found within it.

The landscape of Firle is fundamental to the history of the village and its economic life, the chalk supporting sheep and corn, the staples of the agricultural life of the parish. The influence of the Gage family on the community is key to its 21st century appearance, giving it a quintessential English rural appearance.

About Dr Geoffrey Mead:

“Born and educated in Brighton I have taught for the University of Sussex since 1984 which is where I took my BA in Geography, where I researched Firle. My MA in Local & Regional History followed a few years after and in 2012 I gained a PhD in interwar suburban housing. I have been a house guide at Firle for 10 years and lead regular walks around the estate as part of my university teaching, which is based on largely on studying rural communities past and present.”


Saturday 11:30am


Gardening for Butterflies

with Dr Ian Bedford

Head of Entomology at The John Innes Centre in Norwich

About Dr Ian Bedford:

“For as long as I can remember, the insect world has fascinated me and, from an early age I recall nothing more enjoyable than spending summer holidays searching for bugs across the Sussex Downs and learning about their intriguing lifecycles.  As time went by, I was able to forge and develop my entomological interests into a professional science career and currently lead the entomology department at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where I’ve worked for over 40 years.  Whilst much of my work as a research entomologist centres on sap-sucking insects such as aphids, leafhoppers and whitefly, I’ve always maintained a strong passion for butterflies.  The incredible way that they change from cumbersome caterpillars munching on plants into beautiful, delicate butterflies that flutter amongst the flowers, remains a true wonder of the natural world.   However, butterflies are often highly susceptible to even the smallest changes to their habitats and can provide us with an important indication as to the health of our natural environment.  Their ongoing decline is therefore a strong signal to us all that we need to urgently improve their habitats, perhaps starting at home with our gardens.”


Sunday 1:30pm


British Flowers Rock!

with Ben Cross from Crosslands Alstroemeria Nursery

About Ben Cross:

A 4th generation commercial British Alstroemeria grower from Sussex will talk about how this sustainable crop is grown. He will also give an insight into the UK Cut Flower industry and the need for more support and awareness for British Flowers… British Flowers Rock!  

Ben studied and worked in marine science and oceanography before returning to tend more than thirty different varieties of alstroemerias under 3 acres of glass all year round. 30 years ago there were lots of similar nurseries growing cut flowers all over the UK but the trend for importing cut flowers grown in Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador has sadly led to their demise. Ben’s nursery tours and talks are popular with flower clubs and horticultural societies who flock to see one of the few surviving old style horticultural establishments. ‘I feel very passionate about keeping the nursery going. It is a lifestyle like farming, not a job’ says Ben with heartfelt passion.