Autumn is proving to be the perfect time to catch a collection of hot, fiery dahlias brightening up the historic gardens of Michelham Priory in Sussex.

While the change of temperature has brought a slight drop in temperature, the emergence of a series of bright beautiful seasonal flowers is starting to turn heads at the historical site in Upper Dicker, just outside Hailsham.

Dotted across the seven acres of grounds at Michelham Priory are close to a dozen separate types of dahlias, creating a splash of summer colour against the backdrop of the medieval gatehouse and Tudor mansion.

To catch this autumn gardens display in Sussex, you will need to move fast though. The display is only expected to last a few weeks while the temperature remains relatively mild.

James Neal, Head Gardener at the site, said: “The dahlias are really blooming well at Michelham Priory, after a slow start due to the heatwave.  Our main display by the gatehouse was donated by the Friends of Michelham Priory and this year features hot, fiery colours.

“They are certainly garnering lots of attention from visitors of all ages who are looking for an interesting day out in Sussex.”

Dahlias on display

Varieties on display at Michelham Priory include: Apache a bright red cactus type; Honka a starshaped Cartwheel type red with a yellow centre; Jowey Joshua, a Pompom type deep ruby red with a creamy centre; and Karma Bon Bini, a Cactus type with fully double pointed petals which turn backwards to produce a tubular effect, flame red with a yellow centre.

Inca, an Anemone flowering type commonly known as Powder Puff dahlias, is bright red with a deep centre and gains plenty of attention from the visitors to the historic Sussex site.

But the real showstopper is the Dinner plate dahlia that is Blackjack, which has huge dark red flowers which can reach up to 25cm in diameter.

James said: “Elsewhere in the garden we have other dahlias from previous displays such as the classic orange bronze double bloomed dahlia David Howard and a ray of sunshine that is Ice crystal, which has beautiful white spiked flowers with a hint of yellow at the centre. We also have a series of single dahlias, sown from seed, called Bishops children, variations on the popular Bishops range, dark coloured foliage with flowers of red, pink, yellow, orange and purple, with open centres beloved by bees and pollinators.”

About Michelham Priory

Michelham Priory is owned and cared for by The Sussex Archaeological Society. It is open from 10.30am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday throughout October and November.

Enter through the medieval gatehouse and freely explore the seven acres of tranquil grounds. The longest moat in England surrounds the whole site.

Take a tour around the Tudor house, built on the site of the original medieval priory.

Visit the cafe for local produce, homemade cakes and a range of hot and cold drinks. Free parking and free WiFi is available.

Entry to the site is £11 for adults, £10.50 for seniors and £5.50 for those under 18.

Become a member

Members of The Sussex Archaeological Society can visit the site and the Society’s other Sussex Past heritage sites and museums for free. These include  Lewes Castle & Museum and Fishbourne Roman Palace free of charge. There is the added benefit of half price entry to more than 50 English Heritage sites in the South East.

Annual membership starts at £47 for an individual membership or £75 for joint membership. Families of two adults and up to four children can join for £80.

For more information or to book tickets, please visit www.sussexpast.co.uk.