Monday, 20 June 2016


On a bright and sunny day last week, I made my way through the beautiful Kent and East Sussex countryside to 'Perch Hill' near Burwash, the home of renowned gardener, writer and TV broadcaster Sarah Raven.  

Sarah and her husband, writer Adam Nicholson, bought Perch Hill fifteen years ago.  Over the years, it has been transformed from a run down dairy farm in to the home and highly productive nursery and gardens it is today.  There are extensive vegetable and flower cutting gardens, providing all the produce for the highly popular gardening and cookery courses held there throughout the year.  Every plant variety that is sold through the wonderful online/mail order shop is also carefully trialed at Perch Hill, before hand.

The school is housed in a bright and light building, with a large conservatory attached with beautiful views over the neighbouring rolling Sussex countryside.  On arrival, my fellow students and myself were warmly greeted with coffee and delicious home made beetroot and chocolate brownies.  We were a lovely small group of just seven ladies, and as we introduced ourselves and chatted over coffee, we learned that we had a variety of gardening experience and differing available garden space, but the common bond was our mutual love of flowers and that we were all keen to learn to grow our own beautiful cut flowers at home.

There was also time for a browse around the beautiful shop, with many gorgeous tempting garden and interior bits, books and seeds for sale.

Our morning of teaching from Sarah herself, started in the classroom.  A highly informative talk on the best way to go about planting a cutting garden, which flower varieties were the best value and most productive, and how from just a couple of square meters patch, we could be rewarded with a constant supply of beautiful fresh cut flowers to pick for our homes from Spring until the first frosts.  

A tour around the greenhouses followed...

....and then on to see the extensive kitchen and cutting gardens.  All so abundant and inspirational!

A delicious lunch was then served inside the conservatory.  All fruit and vegetables and salad were from the organic vegetable gardens.  Pictured here was a gorgeous fresh and colourful salad with edible nasturtiums, which was served alongside a delicious chicken and lemon dish and sweet potato rosti.

Pudding was the most mouthwatering orange almond cake with rhubarb and ginger yoghurt, and to drink we had a delicious and refreshing rhubarb cordial...lunch really was a home grown treat.

After lunch it was off to the barn for our flower arranging demonstration with Sarah and her floristry team.  We learnt how to prepare and condition our foliage and flowers prior to arranging, along with a brilliant and easy technique for arranging a beautiful big hand tied bouquet.  All helpful and invaluable advice.

It was then off out to the cutting garden with our secateurs and buckets to pick our choice of flowers to make our own hand tied bouquets....

Even this early on in the summer, there was an abundant choice for picking...

Beautiful Cosmos...

Orange Poppies and magenta Sweet Williams...

This is a very clever home made grid, built to support the emerging Dahlias...I shall definitely be taking this idea home with me (along with many others!) to support these highly productive flowers which are a brilliant choice for a cutting garden, as the more you pick, the more they produce right up to the Autumn's frosts.

Lilac and white 'Wild Rocket' flowers...


We girls decided it was like being in a sweet shop!

With my bucket overflowing with beautiful blooms, it was back to the barn...

With back up help on hand from Sarah and her team, we set about conditioning and then arranging our bouquets...

It was so interesting to see the differing arrangements that we all produced...different colour choices, scale and themes.  Sarah told us that our own bouquet would be a reflection of our personalities....

Well here is my own finished first attempt....

A little wild and exuberant perhaps....not sure what that says about me?! Ha ha!

A lovely thing to take home as a reminder of a highly informative and enjoyable day in a beautiful setting, meeting new fellow flower and gardening enthusiasts and learning something new.  Highly recommended!


Wishing you a lovely week ahead...

Sophia xx

PS.  If you are inspired to grow your own cut flowers for your home and as beautiful presents, or indeed go on any other of Sarah Raven's brilliant courses, then click here and go to 'Courses and Events' on her lovely website.


  1. Gosh - that looks like an absolutely incredible day, and what fabulous surroundings! Such wonderful photographs too Sophia, thank you for an extremely inspiring post - I think that i may just sign up for a days course myself. xxx

  2. Thank you for sharing the many beautiful images on your blog Sophia, I remember thinking how wonderful it must have been when you posted photos on Instagram. Its funny, today I was watching Monty Don's French Gardens DVD and I took a photograph of similar image of the horizontal trellis that Sarah uses to grown her Dahlias through. We have used some makeshift support for our Annabelle"s and I was thinking that something like this, something more rustic would be more suited. Love your bouquet xx

    1. Thank you Angela, and I am glad you enjoyed it. The grid is such a simple and clever idea and would be ideal for your wonderful 'Annabelle's' I think. I must watch the Monty Don's French Gardens series, as I missed it first time around....sounds wonderful. Sophia xx

  3. Wow..such a beatiful of plenty flawers in your in your garden.Love it!!!
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  4. Such a beautiful post and what a beautiful day Sophia. I can just imagine how inspired you all must have been when you went home after your course. Filled with joy and laughter and so much inspiration. And I adore your wild and beautiful bouquet.

    Take care and thank you for a great post.


    1. Thank you for your kind comment Charlie. It was a very inspiring and fun day. Sophia xx