Sunday 11 April 2010

All things bright and beautiful

Each little flower that opens
Each little bird that sings
...glowing colours........

Aahhhh, I just love to sing that happy hymn and this week I have been humming it often.

The sun has been shining down on this corner of Blighty all week long. The birds have been chirruping their sweet spring soundtrack and the soil is warm and crumbly. We have been making the most of this and have been outside gardening every evening. Mr.Lane arriving home from work and donning his gardening gear, we have hoed and sowed long into the twilight.

I have been filling the house with spring flowers, small posies really as so many spring flowers are small, dainty and delicate. This got me thinking about a very favourite garden of mine and so I thought I would show you all.

Photograph by Jonathan Buckley, taken from "Grow your own cut flowers," by Sarah Raven.

This divine Spring Vase is by Sarah Raven. I have long admired Sarah, and her wonderful eye for colour. I particularly love her approach to growing cut flowers along with fruit and vegetables and many of the ideas in her garden in East Sussex have in some small way been implemented here Down the Lane.

I first visited Perch Hill, Sarah's garden in Spring 2006 and I have been returning ever since. When I was sifting through my photos to show you I realised just how much the garden has developed over that time.

On entering the garden for the very first time I suddenly grasped the scale on which Sarah grows flowers for cutting, it was a revelation to me! I loved the simple support structures bent from willow and hazel and the vertical definition created by simple wigwams even though in spring they were not yet smothered in sweet peas and climbing beans.The whole garden had a wonderful sense of exuberance about it.

I am so glad I took this photo of a border being worked on, it is outside the kitchen and has changed immensley since this first visit.

Sarah has a magnificent green house, where tea and coffee is served in a gorgeous jumble of Bridgewater mugs. Gardening, flower arranging and cookery courses are also held here.
The bank which leads up to the grennhouse is planted in a glorious jumble of tulips, wallflowers and leafy vegetables and salad leaves.

Across from the back door of the house is my favourite part of the garden. A walled area enclosing a lovely sheltered courtyard. Sarah has an office here inside a gorgeous Oast and attached building, complete with first floor balcony, from here the views are simply breathtaking. We stayed for lunch that day and all the way home I warbled and twittered with ideas and joy. (The poached rhubarb in orange with ginger ice~cream was a large factor in this!)

Here we are back in 2007, spring was earlier and more tulips were in flower.

The bank leading up to the greenhouse was much further on too.

Doesn't it look wonderful? with Sarah's signature acid green euphorbias and the wonderful fiery reds and oranges of tulips and wallflowers.

I love the purple sweet rocket, I have lots here and cut it for the house regularly.

Here we are back at the Oast House, love all those long tom pots planted with tulips, another idea that has been transplanted back here.

When we first visited in 2006 I hadn't appreciated this little low outbuilding. It has a table and a pizza oven and the family use it for alfresco eating. It has doors on either side so when you open them up you find yourself gazing through the courtyard and then your eye travels on across the beautiful Sussex countryside rolled out like a carpet beyond.

Spring 2008 ~ Here is the bank leading to the greenhouse once again. Noticably busier this year.

And a peep into the Oast house courtyard, can't believe how much more mature it all looks.

A lovely grouping of pots outside the front door.

And the cutting garden smelling delicious, those highly scented narcissi make your heart sing.

More of those lovely natural garden structures.

I just love this idea of traing a dwarf apple along a shin height wire to create a low fence smothered in apple blossom ~ so brilliant.

This slightly more formal area is outside the front of the house. Gorgeous rounded domes of box and brick pathways giving the geometry.

Now those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will be familiar with my longing for a gypsy caravan. Lucky Sarah has her very own sheperd's hut painted in a gorgeous green. I am not bitter and twisted though! It looks so perfect here. It moves around from year to year and I love to spot it's current home.

That view from the kitchen to the oast~house courtyard, I can't get over how I never tire of this wonderful space.

And the outbuilding? Yes, all looking lovely but sadly the doors looking across the valley are shut this year.

Now we have reached 2009! ( sorry, thanks for staying with this, I guess if you have managed to you are as smitten as I am!)
Different colours, new tulip varieties abound and wow, the place is packed!

I thought I would show you inside the greenhouse, not a brilliant photo but you get the idea.

This tulip was a show stopper! Isn't it stunning?

Oh and that apple blossom hedge is really bushing up nicely.

Box balls growing slowly, slowly.

And here is the Oast courtyard.

Inside the outbuilding a treat

Atop the scrubbed zinc topped table a wonderful jug of Narcissi!

Looking forward to this year's visit. You can find out more about Perch Hill and Sarah's courses here.
I was also captivated by Alys Fowler's new programme for the BBC called the edible Garden this week, did you see it?
I thought the illustration and animation were so magical, like reading a book. I also love Alys's style ~ gorgeous retro floral dresses for summer and tweed jacket and cords for winter, do have a look on i-player if you can.
Happy GARDENING everyone xXx


  1. It's all so beautiful! The Tulips are stunning!
    I just wish I lived nearer so that I could nip along today!!!

  2. the first really nippy day here as we move into real autumn and winter
    time to dig out woolies and socks and snuggle up- yay!!
    winter is what makes spring so lovely!

  3. I have turned a shade of Sarah's acid green euphorbia looking at these beautiful photographs - what a smply stunning place. How can I wangle a trip "darn sarth" !!! Did you stay up all night loading those photos onto blogger!!!

  4. Sarah, you completely had me hooked from the first pic!
    I loved seeing the changes, and I can see why you are so smitten....oh how I long to visit!
    Thanks for sharing - love your taste Sarah!

  5. What a wonderful place to visit. I think next year I will transform a patch in our back garden into a cut flower bed.
    I did watch The Edible Garden, and really loved it. I am also looking forward to Sarah Ravens new gardeing show starting- Rivers Of Flowers, that will be good. :) xxx

  6. ohh beauutiful flowers! very inspiring photos! wish our garden looked like that hehe!
    guess what the hubby & i have planned today?! yep gardening! not that we know what we are doing but the idea is to plant up some pots & baskets today & maybe a little bed of some sort ;0) wish us luck! x

  7. It looks wonderful - wish it was nearer so we could visit. :)

  8. Oh thats so pretty. I often wonder to myself why so many people buy exotic flowers from the florist when we can grow wonderful ones at home. And some places even spray paint the flowers for them to be a nice colour, I don't like that. That looks like such an amazing place, how does she upkeep it all? My mam is currently putting up a polydome so I look foward to seeing what all she sets, I on the other hand are not very green fingered but I will try and improve as I do like the garden and native species.

    All things nice...

  9. what an absolutely stunning place! No wonder you love it so much!I bet the scent is divine!
    Rachel x

  10. It all looks absolutely captivating.What a wonderful garden to visit.
    Love the long tom pots!
    Lisa x

  11. How stunningly beautiful, Sarah-Jane! So glad you shared all these gorgeous photos--I needed some garden inspiration, and you provided me with so much this morning!

    Hope you're having a lovely Sunday!

  12. So beautiful! We Americans just don't seem to have the gardening talent you do there in Blighty, or maybe it's just too hot here and we're too lazy to do all that sweating and digging ;-)?
    And I adore your little green shepherd's hut - so charming -- I want one!
    Brightest Blessings,

  13. Somewhere I have always wanted to visit! Bless you for sharing so many wonderful pictures with us, I was absolutely captivated. I adore Sarah Raven and her catalogues stay firmly on my kitchen desk and are always a treat to pore over whilst enjoying a morning coffee.

    Looking forward to this years photo's now - please do share. xx

  14. So lovely - I must add that to my list of places to visit, one day!

  15. What an absolutely stunningly beautiful post! I adore a leghtier garden report so much. And over several years, even better!!
    I have to visit this garden next time!

    Thank you, greetings from Stockholm.
    Have a nice gardening week!

  16. What a fantastic post- I loved seeing how it has all developed over the years!
    I've always fancied a gypsy caravan too.
    I wish I could visit - but we're much too far away!
    Love Kathy xxx

  17. Sarah, I just love these garden photos, such lovely colors! The greenhouse is also beautiful, unlike any I have ever seen. By the way I have adopted your name for the rounded Boxwoods. Thanks for sharing! Becca :-)

  18. thanks soo much for sharing your photos - i have got her catalogue and bought some seeds - would love to see the garden but is is tto far to come - maybe one day

  19. ...and breath *big sigh* a place I would love to visit and in my mind my perfect home. Sarah is my gardening goddess as Nigella is to my cooking.

    Nina xxxxxxxx

  20. WOW...I would love to spend a day is all so very beautiful, and real garden of Eden! Love the flowers and all the planning and the buildings..too too beautiful! Come say hi :D

  21. Hi SJ! What a wonderful place you have been to visit.....and I feel like I've had a chance to visit, too, through your beautiful pictures! I am planning to do a post about my {extremely sad and depressing Midwest, USA} garden this week. Would you mind if I mention your post? I am still trying to figure out how to link to other blogs in my posts, but if I am able, would love to give you a shout out. I do so hope to visit England again someday, just to see the gorgeous gardens. Until then, I'll keep checking back.....Thanks for making my day! xx P&H

  22. So like our garden Sarah-Jane, ha ha. In my dreams it would look partly like Sarah Raven's. Shepherds Hut and dreamy more countryfied, slighly messier bits are my wish. Instead we have just the messier bits, but then we have naughty hens who don't get gardening. Pah.

    Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed. Also like the thought of looking like Alys Fowler too. Perhaps lose a decade and a bit aswell.

    Lisa x

  23. great pics...I wish my garden was like this!

  24. This is just gaspingly beautiful. Yes, I'm in love and I stuck all the way through this post - no problemo! I'm not sure, though, if I'm encouraged to garden or should go and weep. One of these days we'll get to the dig the dirt stage.

    Love, Katy

  25. Sooooo I want to get outside and create! Pure inspiration today my friend. Hugs for a great week. xoxoox

  26. Oh wow! Really, wow! What a fascinating and beautiful place, but I have to say, I just love the gypsy caravan, I have always wanted one too, and when I was little I used to daydream about being a gypsy! Thank you for sharing this! xxx

  27. Oh my goodness! Inspired! I love it all! xx

  28. Beautiful! Such a lovely place to visit! I wish I had such green fingers! I just don't enjoy gardening at all (what a confession!) I do love a nice garden though so I do it!!!! We just had a post winter clear up while the weather was nice!!

  29. Thanks so much for sharing your photos. How I would love to garden like Sarah! Can but dream I suppose ......

  30. As always dear Sarah...your posts are delicious, inspiring and beautiful. A real treat. Makes me want to fly to the garden centre and spend, spend, spend!

  31. Oh it all looks so beautiful and inspiring!
    Sadly I have a tiny and very difficult garden as it has very heavy clay soil and lots of tree roots from the magnolia next door.I am growing things in pots for colour and just having shrubs in the main flower bed.Hope we have some nice weather at the weekend so we can all spend time in our gardens.

    bellaboo :0)

  32. So beautiful, I have a couple of her books. I also buy my veggie seeds for her. They are a little more unusual then you can find in the garden centres xx

  33. What a beautiful tour. I don't think there is anything to compare with an English garden.

  34. I have just spent a lovely time reading through your blog, love it. We share so many likes ,loves and passions,.. your posts about summer and devon/cornwall transported me ... haaa.. We try to go down to St Ives every year. you also seem to be in love with Bright star the film, too beautiful on many fronts. have a look at my blog you may enjoy my latest post.. glad I have found your great blog! bestest wishes,Linda.

  35. Good morning my darling, what a lovely post to wake up to. I dream of owning a gypsy caravan as well. I plan to paint mine a light shade of pink and place it in the middle of a lavender field, I even know how I want to decorate the interior. So far it is only a dream. Enjoy your day and your garden my luv. My mum use to say that while gardening one speaks to the angels.

    Love & Hugs

    Daddy is sending you love and hugs.

  36. Ok, I've been outdoors tugging weeds, fertilizing, and enjoying the warm spring sunshine. Stopped to check on you and NOW I am a mixture of enthusiasm at the wonderful Sarah's garden, but also wondering HOW she does it all. I spend about 20 hours a week in my garden and believe me, it doesn't look one zillionth as great as hers.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration and lovely, lovely, photos. Now I'm going out to cut a big bouquet.

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  37. Ah yes.. ditto ditto..
    Sarah Raven's little corner of heaven is one of my dream destinations.. maybe this summer.. maybe next .. but one day I will get there.
    I also share your love and fascination for The Edible Garden.. not only food for thought but a real treat for the heart and soul.. a beautiful garden is my own personal manna!

    Michele xx

  38. Oh I am in love. I have never been but I have peeped at friends' copies of the cutting garden book and have been inspired. I am going to try and post a posy every week or two until October. I was surprised how colourful my first one was and I've already picked my second.

    Thankyou thankyou for posting such a stunning collection of photos Sarah. One day soon I will visit myself.

  39. The Tulips are breathtaking , thanks for the stroll...

  40. What a wonderful tour! I love the natural garden structur's and the shear abundance of flowers and greenery just fills me up! I'll be sharing my tour of an English Manor and Garden from Blithwold Mansion and Arboretum in Rhode Island next week!
    It's as close as I will get to England for a while! I can live vicariously through your blog...
    Thanks so much,

  41. beautiful. sarah raven is living the life i want. gorgeous post x


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