Monday, 27 July 2009

Glorious Colour

I have been looking forward to (last) Saturday for a while and having had Friday mulling around at home to recover from last week's antics and a very rare lie-in on Saturday morning, I was raring to go!  East Sussex here we come!

We were off to visit Sarah Raven's garden at Perch Hill.  You may know Sarah Raven from her appearances on Gardeners' World or you may have some of her gorgeous books.  She is well known for her bold, bright and zingy approach to flower gardening and is the lady behind the "cutting garden", yes, she manages to grow really stunning flowers just to cut them all down.  But she does then arrange them all beautifully.  She is also an accomplished cook and has thriving veg and fruit gardens too.  Ok, got the background?  Off we go then...

Perch Hill is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, or at least in the midst of acres of lovely rolling Sussex countryside.  We park in a field and set off in the direction of the sweet pea scent filling the air.  Yes, it is that strong.

We enter the "cutting garden" which is designed beautifully and amazingly well kept, not a weed in sight.  The gravel pathways are lined with arches crafted from willow (grown in the local coppice I believe) and are  laden with every variety of stunning sweet pea.  The beds are filled with vibrant colour.  At this time of year, there were lots of dahlias.

Yes, LOTS of the most divine dahlias indeed.

There's also a very productive area with herbs, onion and shallot plants, beans and rhubarb.

Seriously coveting those rhubarb forcers.

Throughout, there are attractive areas to sit and rest.  How anyone can have their garden this immaculate but have time to rest I do not know!

Beautiful gladioli.  Sarah doesn't grow any old flowers, she grows ones with the most amazing colours.  She also plants them next to other fabulously coloured flowers for maximum ZINGGGG!

Behind the house, is the Oast Garden which is non-productive (ie. not for cutting or eating), purely for enjoying.

More stunning colours, more divine dahlias.

Travelling round to the side, there is the main vegetable garden.  Even this looks completely breath-takingly beautiful, very well ordered and with those all important colours again.  It's also impressive because the sight is sloping but this doesn't seem to have been a problem.

The backdrop is completely gorgeous.

Ah, well that was all very tiring, time to head indoors.  Can't turn down an opportunity for retail therapy...

As well as various home and garden accessories, you can buy many packets of seed.  We were particularly taken with the sweet peas and the Munchkin duly chose a couple of packets.  Watch this space next year!

Sarah's lovely books were for sale.  Sarah was present herself for a Q&A session (so busy I couldn't even get near the door) and to sign books.

Plants were also for sale.  A couple of those dahlias I'd spotted in the garden have made it back with us.  Am all fired up with the idea of my own cutting garden.  That was until I got back and saw the weeds I need to conquer first!

What could be better than a stop for tea?  The cakes were seriously scrummy as was the elderflower cordial.  They seemed to have set aside a section of a gigantic greenhouse for tea.  It was all executed in that same exquisite taste with attention to detail.

And to top off the afternoon nicely, I was pleased to note on the way out that Sarah Raven even has her very own henhouse!


  1. What a lovely day and such a beautiful and inspiring garden.

  2. What a beautiful garden, just love the colours. And so much work has gone into it
    Sweet peas are my favourite flower, especially purple ones.
    Love the dahlias, we grew dahlias at our allotment once, and when we cut them and brought them home, they were crawling with earwigs!!! Yuk!!
    The cakes look very tasty!!!
    Looks like you had a lovely day.
    Linda O xx

  3. That is such a lovely garden - and I do like your dahlia mosaic - I've always wanted to do that. Very clever! I have just bought some dahlias to plant here, but not from such an illustrious grower!

    Pomona x

  4. Aha...the lady from CL mag...I've enjoyed her garden spot via that mag....I saved the back issues, incase one day I'm lucky enough to ever have a garden worth doing something with!

    What a lovely day out,
    Thank you for showing us round!


  5. what a beautiful garden!
    the cakes look pretty yummy too :-)

    Rose XXX

  6. It looks like a fantastic day out. I am sure I would be inspired with so much colour around me. I look forward to seing your cutting garden next year!!! x

  7. Thanks Hen,I've been looking forward to your tour of Sarah Raven's garden, and you haven't disappointed! It is beautiful, isn't it? Her style is superb, and I love her perfectionism. I'm just going to go back and have another look at your gorgeous photos.
    Love Vanessa xxx (do you mind if i knit)

  8. OOh Hen, you've dragged me away from supervising the girls 'helping' daddy lay blocks in the new pig sheds! Ha ha...i did provide coffee and buns though so dont feel too guilty.
    Love love love Sarah Raven, shes amazingly inspiring, id love to visit. My garden is huge but as ive only been here a year ive no idea how it'll end up. Id like a little meadow patch, for wildflowers...and also a cutting garden, you know when sarah is walking along with huge armfulls of amazing blooms and you just think 'i wanna do that'! She then puts them in amazing vases, the like of which ive not come accross size-wise...
    Even the little tea area looks fantastically thought out, love the colour of those metal chairs. And the Dhalias? ah the dhalias! Ive been trying to buy a new bulb or two each year to build up lots of different varities so im now not sure whether i should lift them over winter or leave them in...gardners world website research coming on i think.
    Thanks for a fab post!
    Kirsty x

  9. How really felt like I was there with all those super pics. I love sweet peas with their little twirly cute.

  10. What a beautiful garden... here's hoping one day mine will look the same! Blasted weeds... they just keep coming back :(

  11. What a lovely garden, somewhere I've always fancied going day I shall make it, but now I am content with my Sarah Raven Cookbook which isn't to far away at this time of year with all my allotment produce !

  12. Gorgeous garden!! Looks like the perfect place to spend a summer's afternoon!!!

    Sharon xx

  13. Hi! What a lovely place!
    Those dahlias and gladioli were really stunning! Thank you for sharing your always interesting weekend's trips!
    I know you love hats..please, have a look at my collection ;-)
    Have a nice week!

  14. You lucky spud! I'd love, love to go to Perch Hill. I do like Sarah Raven - any woman who always gardens in a skirt and wellies gets my vote!

    Have you read the book about Perch Hill by her husband Adam Nicholson?I picked it up in a charity shop for £1 and its a fab read about how they came to the farm and how he sort of wrestles with being a hobby farmer and getting to know the surrounding landscape. Great if a bit quirky. The inner sleves are decorated with drawings of the land they own and field names etc, I love it.

    And those dahlias - next year I am definitely going to set a side a bed on the allotment as a cutting patch and there will be tons of these.

    Thanks for sharing your gorgoeus photos, what a wonderful day out (love the colour of the tea chairs btw), looking forward to seeing your Munchkin's blooms next summer.

  15. How beautiful. Definitely on my list for a visit!

  16. Those are wonderful photos - such an exciting garden. I am trying to develop our garden so that it has something to pick for indoor arrangements all year round.

    It will never be a real 'cutting garden' like that one, but buying cut flowers is expensive and not really environmentally friendly, so my aim is to have flowers or greenery from the garden indoors all year round.

    I will look out for inspiration from Sarah Raven now you have drawn her to my attention, although the plants may need to be a bit different this far south!

  17. Oh Hen isn't it the most magical place to visit? I normally go to the Spring open day so I really loved seeing the garden in Summer. Mr. Lane sent me on A CHristmas wreath making course a couple of years ago (for my Christmas presie, in't he lovely!) and honestly I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Lovely lovely day out! Sarah x

  18. What a stunning garden! Looks like a lovely day for you all :)

    Thanks a lot for identifying my curtain fabric by the way, I did wonder about Clover but I could only see it in corduroy so I was a bit confused!

    Mel xxx

  19. I tried to make part of my garden a cutting garden after watching Sarah Ravens program about hers. It hasn't quite worked out yet, I think I need a completely separate plot so that no one notices flowers have gone missing.

  20. oh you lucky lucky lucky Hen!!!!!
    I adore Sarah Ravens style and would love to visit Perch Hill one day.

    Aren't you getting around some fabulous places during these hols, I was droooooling over your previous post about Tikki patchwork too.
    And I love that cake always features in your day trips, oh yes I do love that very muuch.

    I wish I lived round the corner from you Hen, you would be my ideal shopping/excursion buddy!


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