Pure Admiration

This post is a companion piece for yesterday’s post about Sarah Raven’s Dahlia trial beds, Pure Envy.  Today I will take you around the cutting gardens and Oast House.

You enter the gardens through the cutting gardens.


My eye was immediately drawn to this collection of echinacea.  They are very appropriately called ‘Marmalade’, ‘Summer Salsa’ and ‘Eccentricity’.  I can’t grow echineacea, so I am very happy to admire these for a while.

Echinacea ‘Marmalade’, ‘Eccentric’ and ‘Summer Salsa’

The cutting garden is arranged in blocks or rows of colour.  You find your block and stand in front of it for a while muttering “gorgeous…”


Sometimes it is a patch of dahlias…


Sometimes cosmos,


Sometimes calendula…


Never have I seen so many inarticulate people dressed in loose linen and straw hats, being unable to string a sentence together.  What do we call this phenomenon?  Flower fug?  Inner cities have their problems with spice.  East Sussex has sweet peas.


All I could do was stand here sniffing.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

Holding my hands out, turning slowly around…

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

Just opening and closing my mouth.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

I did take a few steps, but just stumbled into more of them.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Lord Nelson’

Until I came to my senses at the end of the row.


Only to fall into Echinacea ‘Green Envy’.

Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

These dahlias are clearly dangerous.


It was something of a relief to see signs of wear and tear in the garden.  My Dahlia ‘Ripples’ is looking exactly like this (see Cook little pot, cook!); just ever so slightly flea-bitten.  In a deliciously wicked witch sort of a way.


And Verbena bonariensis had a backdrop of grassy seedheads.  Things are starting to look ‘late summer’.

Verbena bonariensis

We took a moment to admire the cloud-pruning here:


And then it was onwards to the rest of the garden.

When I came here in April, (see A Profusion of Pots at Perch Hill) the Oast Garden blew me away.

I’m just going to calm myself for a moment with Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’









How does she do it?


There were people lying flat on their backs being fanned by anxious friends and family.  Completely overcome.  I had to step over them as I turned in circles looking this way and that, just gasping at the fantabulous overstuffery and mahoosive floriferation all around.

I’m not sure if this Agapanthus is ‘Purple Cloud’ or ‘Navy Blue’.  Neither name does it justice.  I am trying to think of superlatives and synonyms for blue… ‘Azure Heaven’; ‘Cerulean Bliss’; ‘Ultra Ultramarine’…


Oh, I’m falling.  I’m just going to lie here for a while.


I crawled on my hands and knees to the shade of these steps.


It was time for a brave browse in the shop.  Even this is a Temple of Beauty.


I resisted these…


And these.


Anything arranged in a rainbow or available in ten or more colours seems to trigger an acquisitive urge.  But I conquered it.  No one needs raffia in three different shades of pink.



Get me to the café.  My wallet is twitching.


I will just take a seat here.  And take in this view.


I got through it.

The envy has dissipated.  I am left with pure admiration.

Has anyone else done more to glamourise gardening?  To make grown people jump for joy for the combination of Moroccan Blue and Acid Green?  Or stand speechless in front of a sweet pea tepee?  Or simply sit and stare at the perfect placement of a few glass ink bottles and single stems?

I leave the garden feeling inspired, lifted up, invigorated. Sarah Raven is the High Priestess of the Cut Flower.  All hail.

If you have enjoyed this post, then consider clicking the ‘Follow’ button at the base of this post. You will receive an email every time I post. You can also share the post via the usual social media channels, and via email.

My aim in this blog is to share the little pops of wonder I get from gardening and from nature. You don’t have to be into gardening to appreciate these. The world is an amazing place and there are so many sensory delights that go unnoticed.  Let’s not waste the pleasure!

52 Comments Add yours

  1. 🦋 WOW! Impressive. Thank you for walking me through such a beautiful place.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s my pleasure!

  2. This is showstopping! What an amazing place 💗💗💗😘

  3. Cathy says:

    Save me a space down there on the path too, Ali! 😁 Even if we factor in the fact that she has Money and she has Employees (I am guessing she doesn’t do it single handedly) one still feels that Pure Admiration for what she has created, and her understanding of colour is extraordinary. I really must put Perch Hill on my wishlist of places to visit…

    1. Ali says:

      That’s what I think too, Cathy. It’s easy to be snidey about the money, but she does have undeniable talent and is a brilliant business woman.

  4. Wow, what an amazing place, I’ve always wanted to visit. Perhaps one day.

  5. What a feast for the eye – envy indeed! and I’m with you in the admiration.

  6. Linda Casper says:

    Flower arrangers paradise. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s my pleasure, Linda.

  7. Gorgeous, indeed. As usual, entertainingly written

  8. Love all the colour Ali! Especially enjoyed all the different Echineaceas!

  9. Simply stunning. I loved your journey from envy to admiration…

  10. pommepal says:

    Such gorgeous colour combinations, quite inspirational my wallet would be twitching uncontrollably too…

  11. Again…oh my! I would be one on the floor….🤣 love your descriptions of the emotions……x

  12. Gosh you are right – she is in a class of her own. Those pictures show a garden like I’ve never seen. The colours are so wonderful. I agree, it’s not envy because I could never do that perfection but it is definitely admiration and a big thank you for giving people such pleasure. Hats off to SR!

  13. john smith says:

    I am underwhelmed by the colour combinations, to be honest; azure blue and orange. I think sarah raven has created a self appreciation society. Sorry to sound so nasty; my posts on your blog are normally very positive ! Nb. My sweet peas have nearly given up, despite daily watering; so I admire her for that (if not her garden design).

    1. Ali says:

      I am generally a bit uncomfortable with hero-worship too, John! To be fair to SR I don’t think she has cultivated it, she’s just very good at what she does, and has a captive audience!

      1. john smith says:

        OK, I will take a step back from being nasty, and say I am yet to be convinced. Nb. Followed one of your previous ‘suggestions’ and have 8 new perennials from Claire Austin delivered this week. I hope I shall be able to take a few cuttings by the end of the month, which will help to spread the cost; even filling my small garden would break the bank ! The plants are small, but in good condition; they should make some useful growth before the winter (i hope).

      2. Ali says:

        Oh good! That’s a good idea re: taking cuttings!

    2. Heyjude says:

      Oh, but John, her catalogue is divine! And yes, I agree with you about the self-appreciation society and some of her prices are a bit eye-watering, but she does know her plants. And her audience I suspect…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Full bodied and voluptuous!. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I can hardly imagine what it was like to visit there. You must have felt like you walked into heaven. Beautiful photos Ali and thanks so much for sharing your visit with us so we could get a peek too.

    1. Ali says:

      I did, Cindy. I have been lucky with my garden visits this year.

  16. bcparkison says:

    It is certainly on my go to list if I should ever get that far. Beautiful!

  17. Sarah - Mud, Cakes and Wine says:

    Wow wow wow I have no more words

  18. Heyjude says:

    I am speechless. And all I want is what she has done in that first photo of yours. As for the Echinacea – never seen anything like them, and not so sure I actually like them either. Sometimes breeding goes too far. But now I want to visit Perch Hill. Such a shame it is so far from Cornwall.

    1. Ali says:

      I know what you mean – they are a little bit like a children’s craft set!

  19. FlowerAlley says:

    Such a brilliantly colorful post!

    1. Ali says:

      Her colours are incredible.

  20. Eliza Waters says:

    ‘fantabulous overstuffery and mahoosive floriferation’ – oh, YES! Wish I was there. 🙂

  21. Heaven, heaven, heaven. A huge amount of work but such lovely work. I have complete admiration but your garden is perfection too! For now I shall have to contend with what I have, and having learnt where our next posting is, it’s window boxes and indoor plants for me! Lovely post – I’d have really liked to have been there too! Katie

    1. Ali says:

      Oh wow! That sounds exciting, Katie!

  22. Green fingers and green eyed jealousy!! Lovely pics.

  23. Loved the tongue in cheek descriptions of being overwhelmed with the beauty in these gardens. Gorgeous! Enjoyed the post!

  24. Winnie says:

    Wow! I loved this post! What a beautiful place.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Winnie!

      1. Winnie says:

        You’re welcome!

  25. One of the things I love about your blog, Ali, is that as I get back into gardening, I know I can come back to it to keep learning the names of all these beauties and to get good ideas for how to organize my garden. Thank you for this gift! Also, I love this line: Never have I seen so many inarticulate people dressed in loose linen and straw hats, being unable to string a sentence together. (It cracked me up!)

    1. Ali says:

      I made myself giggle a bit as I wrote that!

      1. It was so good. You really have a way with words :).

  26. SCLMRose says:

    Just wonderful. I love the riots of color which made me think I should get more annuals next year.

    1. Ali says:

      Annuals are brilliant for those bursts of colour. And in our climate, for late colour.

  27. I still drooling over this post 6 months later! This garden is on my ‘to visit’ list and I remembered your post so I’m linking this to my blog crush this week over at Lucy’s blog.

    1. Thanks Sophie, I really enjoyed this visit. I will be returning for the open days in 2019 because it is such a feast!

  28. cavershamjj says:

    Wow. The hardnosed part of me thinks yeah right, all carefully arranged to winkle more cash out of the swooning gardener. But doesn’t it all look delish!

    1. I know. SR is very talented – an amazing eye for colour combinations and an incredibly astute business woman.

  29. just wow!!!!! #blogcrush

    1. Thank you! It was one of those visits!

  30. Daydreamer mum says:

    This place is absolutely stunning!! Your photography is fantastic too.
    Congratulations someone loved your post so much they added it to our #blogcrush linky

    1. Thank you, it is a very special place, and a treat to walk around and sit amongst and photograph.

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