Sunday 27 May 2012

Sarah's garden

It would be fair to say that Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden in East Sussex played its part in our moving from Kent. You might say the seed was planted back in 2006 on my first visit here. Before Perch Hill I had always thought a garden open to the public would be primped and clipped and immaculate and so far beyond my own capability, something to aspire to. 

Perch Hill knocked my wellies's real you see. The scale is perfect too, the cutting garden, the oast garden, the productive beds all on a slope...I'm not suggesting we all have a plot this size but it offers solutions to tricky problems and it is shaggy and exuberant in style along with being in a stunning position high up and overlooking the glorious countryside that rolls away into the distance.
This week I hopped across there from our hilltop to hers...on a morning so bright and warm the may caught in my throat as I took my first breath of morning air. Bees buzzing and birds twittering as I arrive...early. I want to savour this garden, drink it in before it becomes too busy and these days it does. When I first came to Perch Hill it was possible to time your stroll through the garden and not see another soul. These days it's trickier but if you are up with the larks....
Pausing for a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the greenhouse I began to feel the heat throbbing in my ears.
Sarah has a wonderful painters eye for colour combinations and artfully grouping objects a "noticer" this appeals to me, I like to soak up the details. I love to see surprising colours paired successfully as well as more harmonious couplings, it is a very great joy of mine to simply observe and absorb. 
And so farewell Perch Hill, until next time. Yes, I did see Sarah, she is always there and I quietly congratulated her on how wonderful the garden looks, I don't think she heard me but she smiled politely anyway. It must be a terrific effort to prepare for a garden open day and I suspect she and the team are pretty exhausted by the time the day arrives!
Opening the back door here at The Lane I am hit by a wall of warm spicy wallflower fragrance and the years fall away...decade by decade, peeling back the layers. When I was very small Magpie spent a whole afternoon planting a long border along the fence of our "new" house. I remember grubbing around nearby, filling tea-cups with mud and "watering them in" with my prized orange watering can. 
Months later, and long after I had forgotten the digging day I remember being astonished by what seemed to me the overnight appearance of tall colourful flowers all along the wooden slats of the close board fence. And the amazing scent! Almost heady enough for me to swoon and being so little and so much closer in height I think it was more powerful.
Opening the back door here, I close my eyes and back I go... I am with my favourite orange watering can! 
Look at my Dad ~ so dapper and Magpie quite heavily pregnant with little brother Faraway...
My friend Holiday came for tea, she went to Perch Hill in the middle of the day...we sat under the big birch tree and debriefed. 

"Please sarah, can I have some more?" 'mais oui!" 
Last years visit is here
Previous visits here

Thanks go to my gorgeous girl, Nina , over at Tabiboo who alerted me that Sarah Raven tweeted about this very post today! 
Wowzers I am thrilled and delighted and blushing, thank you Sarah -x-


  1. Oh Sarah - I wish I had the time.......and the space for such a lovely jumbled, beautiful mess of a gorgeous garden.

    I have to admit - yes ours is a mess, but more from the lack of doing nothing really to a well established garden.

    though the wildlife love it so it can't be all that bad - I just wish it looked a bit more colourful.....without having to rip too much out.

    Enjoy the rest of you weekend

    Nina xxx

  2. lovely post, beautiful gardens and so much beauty in your photography, enjoyed the tour x and dont you look so sweet with your loved orange bucket, bless xx

  3. ...watering can not bucket, ive got my mummy zonked brain on- sorry hehe x

  4. What a beautiful post. Such an incredible garden at Perch Hill. I hope it gives you lots of inspiration to create a stunning garden of your own.
    Lisa x

  5. Oh dearest are a source of joy to me. xxx

  6. The smell of wallflowers takes me back to my childhood too!

    I love your photos of Perch Hill.

  7. you have a very lovely blog! i do appreciate beautiful photos. Sarah is one of my favorite gardeners. i would like to see her garden too someday, everything there looks so very beautiful.


  8. Thank you for sharing your photos of Perch Hill so lovely to see aren't you lucky to live so close! I have only visited once in September, so nice to see in at a different season. Have you ever been one any of her courses?
    I love your orange watering can, you love of gardening started early!
    Sarah x

  9. What an idylic garden! :0)

  10. This posting was one of your most heartfelt and very best. Stellar in the world of ALL postings anywhere. I loved it.

    Perch Hill was CLOSED last year when I was doing research in England. i was SO disappointed, but maybe next time.

    Thank you for this and thank you for "Memory."


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  11. What a treat, many thanks for sharing. It's a place I hope to visit one day too!!

  12. Oh I would love the space, to be able to garden like that. I had to look twice at your mum she didn't look pregnant to me.

  13. So glad you had a good time!

  14. Wow a comment from Sarah, how fabulous! Lovely photos thank you for sharing, one day I hope to visit Perch Hill, it looks like my kind of garden

  15. Ooh, thanks for uch a lovely tour with you, you are so lucky/strategic(!) to live so nearby - I would so love to visit but it is a nightmare to get to from us. I have been to a course Sarah did at her childhood home near Cambridge which was nice and close, same relaxed but stylish feeling as the PH garden, and a house to die for! It is reassuring that you can have a beautiful but not manicured garden! Bx


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