Episode 53 - Show Notes & Advice

episode 53 | show notes & advice

This week join Sarah and Arthur as they go through their favourites from the Sarah Raven spring range, highlighting the exceptional, outstanding things they can’t avoid being tempted by in the new catalogue and online at sarahraven.com.

Offering ideas and inspiration for what to plant in your garden this season, they share brand new exciting combinations for pots and return to some trusty old favourites. 

In this this episode discover

  • Arthur’s favourite dahlia collections and Sarah’s top 3 dahlias.
  • Perennials, climbers and summer flowering bulbs for colour, scent and long-lasting flowers.
  • New must-have combinations for pots and borders.
  • Which edibles to grow – with a surprise recommendation from Arthur!
  • Sarah's delicious and simple recipe for squid and chorizo stew.

episode 53

Arthur’s favourite dahlia collections

1)     Arthur’s Doorstep Dahlia collection

4 desert island tubers, all packed full of nectar and brilliant for pollinators. Dark rich foliage from ‘Waltzing Mathilda’ and ‘Bishop of Auckland’, rich and floriferous ‘Totally Tangerine’ and ‘Soulman’.  

Arthur will grow this collection in a big tin bath planted up with Panicum ‘Sparkling Fountain’ for flowers from June all the way through until hard frosts.

2)    Persian Carpet Collection

This collection put together by Sarah last year also has ‘Totally Tangerine’ and ‘Waltzing Mathilda’ as well as 3 exclusive Sarah Raven dahlias: ‘Sarah Raven’ - like a jammy dodger says Arthur, ‘Lou Farman’ – a beautiful floaty dahlia and ‘Josie’ – like ‘Totally Tangerine’ but more marmaladey.

It will mix perfectly with Arthur’s Doorstep Dahlia collection or look great in a neighbouring pot.

Sarah top 3 dahlias

1)    ‘Labyrinth’ – Sarah has sold this for over 10 years and was drawn back to it last summer along with a new variety she trialled called ‘Red Labyrinth’. Both have a beautiful curl to the petals.

2)    ‘Lou Farman’ - named after Sarah’s business partner of 20 years. Like huge, beautiful butterflies. Similar to ‘Waltzing Mathilda’ but a darker red.

3)    ‘Molly Raven’ - named after Sarah’s youngest child. Great vase life and reminds Sarah of Venetian marbled paper with its beautiful stippling and colouring - a wash of crimson over smoky pink. It can be grown in a pot and is very good for picking.

Arthur practical picks

·       The Dahlia Kit page to help grow all those gorgeous dahlias.

·       Organic liquid seaweed for feeding.

·       Slug a gogo – protects against slugs and is also a soil enhancer made from seaweed that smells and looks nice, so good for pots. Arthur bought this for his mum.

·       Willow flower stakes, set of 20, kiln dried so won’t root, really strong and long-lasting – will stake anything tall - essential for dahlias.


·       Acidanthera murielae (syn. Gladiolus) – Sarah adores this Ethiopian lily with a very gentle lemony scent. A wild cousin of the gladiolus with pure white flowers and crimson-purple centre - fantastic in containers. Sarah crams them into bulb lasagnes. Looking good with their foliage spears from June and flowering August into October. Not hardy so do need lifting and storing.

·       Lilium regale - Almost no better plant for scent if grown somewhere semi-inside like a greenhouse or porch. Sarah wants to put in loads of Lilium regale bulbs in pots and beds around the tomatoes in her summer greenhouse at Perch Hill for a real fragrance hit.


·       Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (Purple Bells) – Arthur wants to put this beautiful climber, with bell-like flowers in the richest purple, into wicker hanging baskets, copying his mum.

·       Thunbergia alata ‘African Sunset’ – Sarah has this marked to grow on a teepee in a large pot. It is mainly green from May to July but then has flowers in all the colours of a spectacular sunset. Paired with Rhodochiton atrosanguineus for colour, beauty and lusciousness right through to the end of November in a sheltered spot – this combo is hard to beat.

Arthur’s perennial selection

·       Angelica gigas – this beautiful umbel is glamourous, bees adore the flowers – wonderful to have amongst pots of dahlias, a perennial that will flower in its first year.

·       Sarah Raven’s new salvia collection including ‘Wine and Roses’, ‘Love and Wishes’,Ember’s Wish’. Will do well in semi-shade, a sheltered alley way or a London garden. Perennial if you don’t cut it back, flowers well into winter, excellent value for money.

For containers

·       Bidens ‘Hot & Spicy’ – this is a completely new discovery for Sarah, terracotta red then more crimson at the centre. Looks good for almost 6 months planted with African Blue Basil.

·       Blueberry ‘North Country’ – a surprise edible pick from Arthur. He likes this for beautiful autumn foliage amongst his dahlias. Needs ericaceous soil so pot up separately.


·      Potato 'Anya' - this was the standout variety that came top in Sarah’s recent potato trial at Perch Hill. She will be planting lots of it this year. Unfortunately this variety is currently out of stock but we have plenty of alternative varieties.

·       Lemon verbena – Arthur is choosing this as it’s fantastic for pots with the most amazing scent. Helpful foliage as its colour goes with everything.

·       Tomatoes - Sarah’s final pick. Her take-to-the-moon tomatoes are:

·       Sungold – incredibly sweet like a sugar burst.

·       Black Russian – wonderful sliced in a salad – a really intense tomatoey tomato.

Squid and Chorizo stew

Sarah’s resolution for spring is to try and share a recipe for end of each podcast. This week she’s chosen a simple, nutritious and warming squid and chorizo stew.

Serves 6:

·       300g chorizo, skinned

·       1 medium-sized onion or shallot, finely chopped

·       3 tablespoons olive oil

·       680g tomato passata

·       100ml red wine

·       300g squid, cleaned

·       200g new potatoes, sliced into halves (optional)

·       Bunch of ‘Russian Red’ Kale or cavolo nero, stripped from the stem and chopped

·       Bunch of ‘Gigante di Napoli’ (or any other) parsley, finely chopped

Heat a griddle pan until it is really hot. Cook the squid, a few at a time for 1-2 mins on each side, pushing the pieces down on the ridges to get the char marks. Cook the tentacles for about 30 seconds. Set aside, chopping up a bit.

Cut the chorizo into discs about as thick as a pound coin and then cut these in half if you don't want them to be too chunky. 

Fry the onion in the oil over a gentle heat for 6-8 minutes. 

Add the chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes until the fat runs. Add the passata and red wine. Reduce the sauce for 10 minutes on a gentle heat.

Add the squid to the stew along with the sliced baby potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Add the kale or cavolo nero about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. 

Serve sprinkled with the ‘Gigante di Napoli’ parsley.