An Open Day at Sarah Raven’s Garden, Perch Hill

Deep in the East Sussex countryside and down some steep, exceptionally narrow country lanes we found Sarah Raven’s garden at Perch Hill. It was their Open Day on Saturday 14 September. With heavy rain and wind forecasted it was with a little trepidation as we entered a field that had been turned over to the car park. Arriving at 10:30 it was already very busy making it difficult to take photos without people in the shots. We were all snapping away with our cameras so many of my photos are slightly ‘narrow’ in vision as I cropped out the other visitors!

The famous Sarah Raven Cutting Garden was entered into via an archway and was exactly in keeping with my vision of the garden from her books and photographs of the garden. As can be expected at this time of year it was packed full of dahlias and extremely tall cosmos.

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Obviously, as the summer is coming to an end so where a lot of the flowers and some of the beds are being made over for spring planting, such as Erysimums. What struck me as great in this garden was that everything was labelled. I love it when that happens because when seeing varieties that strike you as being something you would like it, makes note taking so much easier.

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Another photo of the cutting flower beds. I particularly liked the mix of Nicotiana and coreopsis.

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The garden is divided into sections and at the far end is the vegetable garden, a large caged fruit area and a field of hens beyond. There was a large selection of vegetables including beans on very tall wigwams that would put The Giant Bean Stalk to shame. Even if you were not going to eat them, I liked the colour of the Barlotti Beans.

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Often when visiting gardens I am always puzzled, and slightly in awe, as to how they manage to avoid slugs, snails and other critters munching away at a plant reducing it to a single stalk. I know it is mean but I had a wry smile when I saw what the caterpillars had done to the Kale.

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On leaving the cutting garden we headed towards the house garden. This is where my friend and I began to differ in our thoughts. He particularly likes box hedging, I did not like the large box balls that weaved their way through the flower beds, but its healthy that we all have different opinions on what makes a garden. I may be in a minority so leave it up to you. This garden is divided into sections with brick pathways that I did like and next to the box beds there were grasses, Echinacea , cleomes and penstemons amongst other plants.

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When I got home, I came across a You Tube video of Sarah Raven talking about this part of the garden in September which I thought I would share with you as it is interesting and gives you another view of the front garden.

There were some lovely touches which made you feel you really were looking around someones personal garden and not a public garden.

Hanging on the front door is a wreath made from dried grasses and Honesty seedheads, very rustic.

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In the wall around the garden to the house is an unusual gap which has been filled with geraniums and dahlias in pots.

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After much discussion and debate about the planting in the garden to the front of the house, coffee and cake called so we headed towards the tearoom and shop. This is up on a high bank edged with Verbena Bonariensis and full of raised beds containing herbs and edible plants. At the end of the tearoom is a greenhouse full of lots of varieties of tomatoes.

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I found another video which gives you a good idea of the above bed, full of salad crops, taken in the Spring as the beds are also full of tulips.

We were lucky that the rain held off but it was muggy and humid which, with the number of people there, made the tea room and shop warm and slightly uncomfortable . I didn’t feel I wanted to spend much time wandering around the shop but I had been sent with a small shopping list and managed to find the dark pink/beetroot coloured hyacinths called Woodstock for my friend.

I am glad I had the chance to visit Perch Hill and see the cutting garden in real life splendor and would recommend if you are in the area and get the opportunity, that you visit also – check out the Perch Hill Diary of Events.

Most links in this post will take you to the Sarah Raven on line shop. This is only because I thought you may find it of interest and not for any other reason.