Behind the Scenes at Perch Hill: Part 2

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Last week I spent two blissful days at Perch Hill... filming more videos with Sarah, and helping out with the open day. As I mentioned in my April post, Part 1 of this series, I adore going down there. It's one of my favourite places to spend time, to relax and have fun, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery, and eat the tasty food (we can't forget that!).

Each time I go I take a video list, and arm myself with a variety of vases and other props for our day. The boot of my car is usually full, and my husband enjoys joking that I'm the only person who carries a divided flower bucket and stained glass vases such a distance (though I beg to differ, as they're beautiful and essential!). When I arrive I enjoy catching up with all the staff at Perch Hill: Tess, Jo, Cali, Colin, as well as Sarah and Adam of course, and a number of other people that come to help out on open days.

They are such a fun team, so hardworking and so dedicated to Perch Hill - if you go or you have been before, you'll probably spot these familiar faces lurking behind the counter in the shop, in the kitchen, polytunnel, greenhouse or gardens, making sure everything is running as smoothly as possible. Their energy on an open day is impressive! This time our video list included quite a number of floral arrangements, as well as a couple of tours and guides of the various gardens. Make sure to subscribe (it's free!) to our YouTube channel to catch up with the latest videos as they get edited and published... Sarah pops off to the gardens to check what's looking good, and comes back with buckets full of cut flowers, in an array of colours...

Sarah Raven creating an arrangement

Flowers ready for cutting

Arrangements are one of my favourite things to film - there's something so marvellous about something so beautiful being created right in front of you. I love to wander around the gardens when I'm there, and there's always some sort of experiment happening... There's actually a dedicated trial bed in particular, where this year you can see gourds and squashes growing over lobster pots, creating a beautiful rolling hill effect, which was sculptural and interesting and added height.

Rolling hills of gourds and squashes growing over lobster pot frames

There were also a couple of new dahlia varieties on trial - ready for the Spring 2015 catalogue if they grow well. This beautiful one below was my favourite (excuse my little shoes poking into the shot!), and it was rather lovely grown amongst the other colours and textures...

The trial bed at Perch Hill - always new and interesting

Just seeing the new ways of planting gave me inspiration - this year Sarah was trying out growing beans up sweetcorn, and had also made her first attempt at growing quinoa. The veg patch was (as always) full of flowers to help bring pollinators, and increase the biodiversity of the plot. The gladioli were a particular favourite, especially 'Plum Tart' which is a stunning colour - you can just about make it out in the image below in the centre...

The beautiful veg garden at Perch Hill in August

The Oast Garden literally took my breath away. I stood at the entrance and marvelled. The texture and colour it had then was unlike any other time I'd seen it. We shot an entire video in here, and it'll be so much fun to edit Sarah's walkthrough so you can all see it!

The entrance to the Oast Garden

Thankfully our filming day had beautiful weather, but alas the open day had torrential rain. I sat in the welcome van to protect myself from the downpour, and drank on mugs of fresh mint tea and ate a slice of delectable blueberry and lemon cake for comfort. Even though it was damp, there were over 300 visitors by 2pm and Sarah continued to give both her garden tours that day.

Everyone enjoyed their time it seemed, leaving me lovely compliments from under their umbrellas as they left... I always leave a little before the end of the day, in order to make my way back home. This time I was sent with leftovers from lunch... some courgette noodles, fresh leaves and edible flowers from the gardens, roasted squash salad and an olive, feta and courgette spanakopita-type pie (incredible!), along with a fresh scone with homemade jam and clotted cream.

I'm incredibly excited about the next cookbook that Sarah's publishing! Can't wait! If you want to find out more about open days, just visit the website - there's another one on September 14th (2013) and then there are also some Christmas shopping days.

Let me know any questions you have about the behind the scenes action at Perch Hill, and let us know your experiences of visiting...

Thanks for reading!