Behind the Scenes at Perch Hill: Part 1

Posted in All posts, on

At the end of April I had the blissful pleasure of visiting Perch Hill... I went for 2 reasons: firstly to do some videoing for our YouTube channel with Sarah, and secondly to meet up with some of the lovely writers for this blog. Every time I go there I get to experience what Sarah's garden is really like, to sit and eat and talk with her and most fantastically, to watch her in action. And that's what I want to let you in on in this post... a little bit of the behind-the-scenes stuff!

I arrive at about 10am, ready for a day of filming - it takes me three hours to drive there, as it's quite a way from the SarahRaven.com offices in Marlborough. I rather wish I lived closer, but it's definitely worth the trek. When it comes to filming, we write down a list of videos that we'd like to do, circulate this round each department in the office for their ideas, and then I'll rework this with Sarah when we know what will be in flower and looking good on the shooting day at Perch Hill. Sarah is a very enthusiastic presenter, and we'll very easily shoot a whole 2 hours of footage in one day...

Filming in the glasshouse at Perch Hill

It takes a long time to set up the videos - with Sarah fetching all the plants and equipment she needs before shooting, and me trying to find a good location and sussing out shooting angles.

Sarah filling up a vase with water, ready to shoot a video for YouTube

We never rehearse the videos, we literally talk about the idea and start rolling. We stop and start a few times, and we do a couple of retakes, but for the most part Sarah completes in one go. We always want the videos to be natural and fluid, for her to be able to throw in tips and tricks when she thinks of them.

Some of our most popular videos are actually taken from the middle of other planned videos - for example, a tour of the vegetable garden turned into 'Growing Peas in the Veg Garden' where she's talking about her favourite varieties of peas to grow... Every video is really fun to shoot and I always learn so much. I think my favourite videos to create and to edit are the floristry videos we've made - to watch Sarah begin with a bowl and some stems, and then create something so beautiful is quite a wonder to behold. You can see the final edited video on our channel for the one we filmed that day if you look for Spring Floral Centrepiece using a flower grid on YouTube (or just click on the link!). The final arrangement ends up being part of the table decor for the open day the following day...

DSC02402

The prep for an open day is fairly intense. The gardens are being primped, the whole farm is cleaned and tidied, the shop is getting fully stocked and the food is being cooked.

The kitchens at Perch Hill

The food is incredible - anyone that has visited for an open day or a course will tell you that! - using Sarah's recipes and produce from the garden, it's unlike anything you'll get anywhere else, and it's always a highlight of my visit. Actually, anytime someone from the office visits, their first comment when they come back to the office is a full detail of what they ate.

This time I had... chicken salad. But this wasn't just any chicken salad, this was Sarah Raven's chicken salad with raisins, dried cherries, olives, capers and fresh herbs with an olive oil and pomegranate molasses dressing, with a side of fresh green leaves and edible flowers (violas and mizuna flower) and a lemon and poppyseed grated carrot, fennel and pepper 'slaw'.

Lunch at Perch Hill on an Open Day

Anyhow, enough of the food. The open days are huge fun, and the team at Perch Hill are so friendly and good to work with. It's great to see a live 'bricks-and-mortar' version of our online store there, and to see some of the new varieties that are being trialled in the gardens for next season's catalogues. Perch Hill opens about once a month in flowering seasons (you can find the open day details on our website), and it's definitely worth seeing if you can get in a visit.

This particular open day some of the bloggers from Garlic & Sapphire came to visit - to meet Sarah and to talk about the future of the blog, and to meet each other and have a good old natter over a huge piece of apple cake. Karen, Belinda and Rona all arrived, armed with very large cameras and a huge smile on their face. It's lovely to meet them in person and put a face behind the articles (see our Meet the Team page for more info on our writers). They definitely enjoyed asking Sarah all their growing and cooking questions...

DSC02422

We discussed the future of the blog, and all agreed that it was a rather exciting project, and we're so happy to see the blog readership grow! Thank you all for taking the time to read the blog, as well as comment on and share each of the posts that are written here. Do check out the posts by these lovely ladies of their day at Perch Hill - the photos are gorgeous! You can find them at:

More to come from the behind the scenes - so subscribe via email, bloglovin, wordpress or your reader of choice, to catch up with the latest posts!

Thanks for reading,

Alissa-Signature