Sarah Raven is the reason I am so obsessed by flowers. Anyone who has her catalogue plop through their door will know why.
On the ‘Grow your own cut flowers’ Facebook page last week, the lovely LP posted a picture of the newest catalogue with the comment “Well this is dangerous”.
We all knew exactly what she meant. There was a flurry of comments where people confessed their strategies for managing the Sarah Raven itch. Some try to fling it straight in the recycling; some ask a family member to remove their credit card and phone from them; some time their holiday so that they are out of the country when the catalogue arrives; some turn to chocolate and a cup of tea… and five minutes later are adding items to their basket.
I’ll let you ponder which category I fell into.
I’m not alone. Less than 10 minutes after her original post, LP added a comment “Ok it’s too much – I’m going in.”
And in this post, reader, you will find out why.
You are going to feel some serious Dahlia envy here.
I thought I would briefly research the purpose of the human emotion that is envy. In my explorations I found:
- There is a difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy is the fear that you will lose what you have, e.g. partner, best friend. Envy is the desire to have what someone else has, e.g. Dahlias, lots of lovely vases, fabulous views of Sussex countryside.
- There is a difference between malicious envy and benign envy. If you are happy for Sarah Raven to keep her Dahlias, lovely vases and views, but you would like a little bit of them too, this is benign envy. Ah.
And in fact my envy received a little test as we approached the Dahlia trial beds.
One of the beds was looking decidedly un-Sarah Raven-like. All the Dahlias had shortened limbs and no flowers. A chalkboard by the side explained that Perch Hill received a batch of compost that was contaminated with pesticide and it had ‘clobbered’ this bed of Dahlias. This does send a little shudder of horror through me. Any use of pesticides bothers me; I understand that farmers sometimes have to use it to protect their crop, but I would rather a world where we don’t threaten the insect, bird and small mammal population because of our ravenous consumption.
And I did feel sad for Sarah Raven and her team.
So there we go, I have BENIGN envy.
There was so much to see today at Perch Hill that I am splitting this post into two parts. This post is all about the DAHLIAS! I will post about the Cutting Garden and Oast Garden tomorrow.
It was a relief to find that not all of the Dahlia trial beds were clobbered. Here we are about to enter the larger area. It’s up on a little slope, which really does add to the spectacle, as you get tiers of Dahlias. But I do not envy that slope one bit. It must be dreadful to water, if watering is needed.
I am totally envious of that fence.
Now join me in some lovely benign envy.
I have no idea who this woman is, but she makes a lovely addition to the next two photos, as you feel like you are walking through the Dahlias behind her.
As you wind around the perfectly curvaceous path, there is an ombre of one colour blending into another.
[Gasp!] There are Gladioli too! Oh, I love this combination. I find Gladioli evasive little devils to photograph. They’re all leany and out of focus at one end. But I did capture the [oh!] sumptuous petal texture.
And here I did get my first fab Gladioli picture. Ta dah!
I love that combination of apricot and plum. Delicious. I realise I should have made a note of varieties here, but the label was not immediately obvious, and I did not want to cause any more damage to SR’s trial beds by furtling around the ankles of these magnificent Dahlias, so please forgive me. I am sure that the Spring catalogue will enlighten us (unless we have to throw it in the freezer/compost/shredder to protect ourselves).
This is Gladioli ‘Chocolate’, which sounds like a dangerous combination.
This Dahlia was huge. These pumped up Dahlias seem to be making a comeback following the success of ‘Café au Lait’ last year. I do love the ruffled silk petals.
Here it is again, with a hint of the beautiful views beyond.
And – let the envy flow freely here – in the background are Sarah Raven’s compost bays. Nope it is not a multi-car port, I checked. Definitely compost bays. Even Monty Don would feel envious of this.
Let’s turn the heat up with the dark-leaved Dahlias. These all look like Bishops to me.
The Amaranthus behind the Dahlias is inspired. No wonder we all fall at the feet of La Raven.
Here’s a close-up Amaranthus. Looking just a little like Sideshow Bob.
The Amaranthus was just giving the Dahlias a little tickle.
Do you see the Verbena rigida at the front too? I have not photographed it well, but that just bedazzled me with the dark-leaved Dahlias.
The Dahlias start to merge in with the vegetable beds about here. Lettuce and Dahlias look lovely together, don’t they?
Here’s some beautiful kale and Cavolo Nero.
And some stunning basil. Oh the smell! It is one of my favourite smells in the world.
On past the sunflowers…
We stopped for lunch at this point. In the glorious barn. You can see it was delicious. That was lemon chicken just casually thrown together with capers, anchovies, raisins and olives, a raw kale and pomegranate salad, and a cucumber and dill salad. With a casual toss of Dahlia petals.
After lunch I had to go around the Dahlia beds again. They were just too gorgeous. You might have to come with me for a final drool.
The wall! I missed the wall the first time. And the brick path.
One final thought on envy.
- Envy can be viewed as beneficial. It can inspire us to take positive actions in our life to move towards our dreams of having what the envied person has.
Hmmm. Well, it has.
Sarah Raven has inspired me to grow Dahlias for the last eight years, not to mention tulips and annuals and Euphorbia and Gladioli. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am glad that you inspire benign envy in all who visit your garden and gaze upon your catalogue. You bring a little bit of glamour to our lives.
Are you tempted by any of these Dahlias? Or the vegetable patch? What strategies do you employ to manage the Sarah Raven catalogue situation?
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My aim in this blog is to share the little pops of wonder I get from gardening and from nature. We live in a stressful world and just slowing down for long enough to enjoy a simple bud or leaf or a butterfly can be a perfect antidote.