Tag Archives: Sarah Raven

Resolve and realise – March 2015


Well I can see this is going to be the way of R&R posts – I’ll always start with an excuse!

So this month, I’ve gone back to work AND spent this weekend in Kent at a birthday party. These photos were taken on Friday before I left, as nothing has happened since.

So, last month’s list was as follows:

Carried forward

  • dig and prepare new ‘bronze bed’IMG_6075

Tick, the Bronze Bed is ready!  But not only that, I’ve also created another new bed, the Mid Century Bed, shown in yesterday’s EOMV here.

  • mulch all beds

Not completely ticked.  Although I have completed something related that didn’t even make it to last month’s R&R.  I’ve dug out and topped up the strawberry and rhubarb bed.  This bed had sunk considerably since it was created and so this month I’ve dug all the plants out, thinned the strawberries and divided one of the larger rhubarb plants, and then replanted them with at least an extra 4″ of compost and manure.

I’ve also planted some of my Agapanthus grown from seed along the back wall.  I don’t know whether they’ll flower this year, but I hope they’ll be happy with a warm southerly wall to cosy up to.IMG_6070

  • Order seeds

Tick.  (Although I’ve definitely also got a list for Derry Watkins’ Special Plants, and I can’t believe Sarah Raven and the RHS won’t be hearing from me.)

  • Prune and feed raspberries


  • Prune and feed remaining roses

Hmm, not quite a tick.  I’ve completed the majority but not all.

  • Pot up dahlia tubers

No.  And I need to buy a few more for the new beds…

  • Chit potatoes

Difficult as I haven’t bought any.  I’m flirting with the idea of growing them in bags this year as I’ve read a couple of articles extolling the improved flavour.  I think I need to do a bit more research, but would love to hear your experiences with container grown potatoes.

  • Sow chillies

Er no, as seeds only arrived on Friday

  • Sow tomatoes


  • Start sowing hardy annuals

Well I have sown a few more left over seeds, but again difficult to make much progress when I didn’t receive the new seeds until recently!

  • Plant out broad beans

Well they’ve made it from the greenhouse to the cold frame.  Surely that deserves half a tick?

So, all in all, hopeless progress.  I’m blushing as I type.  As a consequence my carried forward list is long, but my new additions short.  I need to get a grip!

Carried forward

  • mulch all beds
  • prune and feed remaining roses
  • pot up dahlia tubers
  • chit potatoes (and decide growing approach)
  • sow chillies, tomatoes and hardy annuals
  • plant out broad beans

and new for March

  • plant aubergines
  • finish planning two new beds and start to buy seeds/plants accordingly.

To finish, a couple  more views of the Stoke City Garden at last year Chelsea Flower Show, the inspiration for my new Mid Century bed.

If you’d like to join in with Resolve and Realise, please do, just leave a link to your post in the comments.  Surely no-one can have failed as spectacularly as I have his month?  I’m certainly not judging 😉



The Feast

IMG_0144 (3)Having managed to exclude my (very wonderful, very busy, headteacher) sister from my birthday celebrations last month by carelessly allowing my birthday to fall on a Wednesday, I needed to atone.

And to the rescue came Sarah Raven with her first ever ‘Perch Hill Summer Feast’.  The event was to be held over the 12th/13th July  at Perch Hill Farm, Sarah Raven’s base in East Sussex, and the programme was a mix of flowers and food – what  more could one want?  I signed us up.

I picked my sister up from the local station and so we arrived together at the farm.  Having had our bags wheelbarrowed to our accommodation by the charming Adam Nicholson (Sarah Raven’s husband, 5th Baron Carnock and grandson of the writers Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson) we arrived at our……tent.  


Now whilst we were aware we were ‘glamping’ and the bunting and flowers were very pretty, I think the lack of power in our tent and the hike to the toilet and shower block, did come as a bit of a shock.  However, all was forgiven as we downed our welcome drink and listened to one of my favourite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, speak about the evening’s dinner.  The meal was fabulous – tasty, colourful mezze starters followed by gorgeous lamb and zingy salads – tomato with pomegranate was a revelation.  And for pudding a walnut, blackcurrant and rhubarb crumble. Yum.

After a slightly fitful night (!) but a restorative breakfast, we headed to the marquee to listen to Sarah talking about the Perch Hill garden and also demonstrating a hand tied bunch.  

I have actually been to Perch Hill before, at least fifteen years ago (maybe twenty) in the very early days, when I attended a one day course with my mum about growing flowers for cutting and making a hand tied bunch, so Sarah’s three elements of foliage and three flowers (the bride, bridesmaid and gatecrasher) were familiar to me. It was still interesting seeing her creating a magnificent bunch from the arrayed buckets of flowers – not least because I’m growing almost everything she used!


IMG_0131 (3)The flowers were followed by a demo from the lovely Yotam, and then lunch.  After lunch Sarah demonstrated her ‘perfect’ salad (with five separate ingredients of lettuce, salad leaves, salad herbs, salad veg and edible flowers).  We also tried a number of tisanes (herbal infusions) including Lemon verbena with basil, Black peppermint and a number of scented leaf pelargoniums – ‘Mabel Grey’ and ‘Attar of roses’.  

By this stage the sun had come out and my sister, ever the Girl Guide, headed back to the tent to to air it.  On the way we wandered through Sarah’s Cutting Garden, which was lovely and very abundant, but actually smaller than I remembered.



We also admired some good looking veg


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On the Saturday evening we had another cookery demo, this time by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gill Meller from the River Cottage, and after the demo we ate a menu they had put together.

The starter of lambs liver with Merguez spices, was gorgeous, but the main, a tasty mackerel fillet with gooseberry and mint salsa, I felt was rather confused by three different salads including strawberries, raspberries and beetroot.  But the gooseberry posset and compote with lemon verbena shortbread was a lovely finale – although to repeat a fruit already used in the main, seemed strange.

Sunday saw me in the greenhouse with the girls from the Flower Appreciation Society making a floral headress,IMG_0191 (2)and my sister back in the marquee attending a talk about breadmaking by Elizabeth Weisberg from the Lighthouse Bakery.  

We were both then entertained by the last cookery demo, this time by Valentine Warner.  Whilst maybe not the slickest of the demonstrators, he has a lovely, approachable manner, and certainly generated quite a lot of laughs (possibly not all intentional).

Prior to this was a Q&A session with all the main speakers.

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I wasn’t sure how interesting this would be, but there were some fabulous questions from the floor, with topics including GM crops, teaching cookery in schools (“we should call it fire and knives” Valentine Warner) the nutritional content of flowers and what is your fallback meal (“I’m more of a ready meal man myself” Adam Nicholson).  

However my favourite was the first, regarding how each of the individuals had retained their authenticity in the face of celebrity, and how they continued to ‘follow their bliss’.  This phrase, introduced by the questioner, was enthusiastically adopted by the speakers, who all genuinely seemed to be managing to ‘follow their bliss’ despite competing demands and busy lifestyles.  

It’s an interesting concept and one we should all bear in mind.  After all, you’re the only one who knows what your ‘bliss’ is, so it’s definitely up to you to follow it.

But before I get too deep and philosophical, I think I’ll cut to a picture of jelly, as that was the finale, before we headed home.

IMG_0194Oh and apologies for the quality of the photos – in my excitement I forgot to bring my camera!