Episode 60 - Show Notes & Advice

episode 60 | show notes & advice

Bumper podcast summer special! Sarah and Arthur share their must-haves from our summer and late summer range, highlighting the exciting, brand new plants they will be growing this season, alongside some trusty old favourites. This episode is packed full of ideas and inspiration for your summer garden, with lots of flowers and veg to harvest too.


In this this episode discover

  • The new container collections Arthur and Sarah love for this summer, including pots for shade and cut flowers
  • Arthur’s trick to growing tall plants like sunflowers successfully in pots
  • Sarah’s favourite plants for summer scent and her tips for growing basil
  • The newest scented leaf pelargoniums – ‘Lemon Fancy’ and Lavender ‘Deerwood Lass’ - that topped trials at Perch Hill
  • Why sustainable strawflowers are on both Sarah and Arthur’s must-grow list
  • The story behind our exclusive new dahlias ‘Abigail’ and ‘Lou Farman’, bred especially for Sarah Raven


Episode 60 advice sheet

Container collections

·      Magnificent Merlot Pot Collection (Summer, p.7)

Sarah loves the beautiful combination of small Dahlia ‘Dalaya Aruna’ with crimson-red Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Red Velour’ F1. A long flowering (from May or June until November) and low maintenance pot, good for cutting too. With stem ends seared for 10 seconds, ‘Tidal Wave Red Velour’ lasts 10 days in the vase.

·      Blackberry Lace Container Collection (Summer, p.10)

A great collection for a big pot summer explosion with the hanging purple bells of Rhodochiton to climb up a silver birch teepee, and velvety Amaranthus ‘Red Army’ billowing out, both cut through by the brilliant pink flowers of Pelargonium ‘Shrubland Rose’. Great for a unique whopper pot and right up Arthur’s street. 


How to grow big plants in pots

A key trick Sarah learnt from Arthur is to pinch out tall plants if growing in pots. If you pinch out the leader – squeezing off the growing tip at the top, this will stunt growth, promoting the formation of more axillary buds for a bushier plant. This will work for sunflowers – pinch them out when still small, about 20cm (8in) high. Sarah now grows lots of tall, statuesque plants using this method to give her containers some drama.

·      Summer Jewels Salvia Collection (Summer, p.6)

Three fantastic salvias in jewel-like colours. Low maintenance, drought tolerant and hugely long-flowering. Salvias are one of Sarah’s top plant families, and grown also as companion plants for roses at Perch Hill, helping to keep them blackspot free.

·      Blue Lace Shade Collection (Summer, p.15)

Browallia speciosa ‘Blue Bells’ has mini campanula-like flowers that stand out above the lacy fern arthyrium leaves. Photographed beautifully by Jonathan Buckley for the catalogue, growing in a zinc tin bath, brilliant for a shady spot and on Arthur’s list.

·      Vibernum carlesii ‘Aurora’ (coming soon)

A shrub that will fill its spot in the garden with the most incredible fragrance.

·      Heliotropium arborescens ‘Reva’ (Summer, p.16)

Sarah’s favourite heliotrope. A quick grower with pale mauve, hugely scented flowers. On Sarah’s must-have list to put in terracotta pots as a table centre and loved by butterflies too.

·      Ocimum x Dark Opal (African Blue Basil) (Summer, p.17)

An excellent choice for an edible container which looks and tastes good for a five-month stretch. Plus it's a fantastic filler for a flower arrangement.


Sarah’s basil tips

·      Don’t send basil to bed wet – water in the morning

·      Basil is not frost hardy so bring inside if any hint of frost.

·      Pick the flowers often, particularly if you want to eat the leaves. Keep a few flowers for scent and for bees and butterflies, but do pick flowers to keep the aromatic taste in the leaves.

·      Cut basil back like a cut flower - cut down to a pair of leaves to promote axillary bud formation, not like parsley where you cut to the base of the stem.


·      Acidanthera murielae (syn. Gladiolus)

An old favourite of Sarah’s, white star-like flowers with crimson blotches at the centre. Statuesque and elegant in terracotta pots, spears of crocosmia-like foliage and curving flowers – beautiful interplanted with Gaura (see our White Sparkle Collection, Summer p.22).

·      Verbena Collection (Summer, p.19)

For a luscious pot with easy flowers but no staking, verbenas are hard to beat. A Perch Hill classic that Arthur will be growing for the beautiful plum jam tones of ‘Superbena Burgundy’. The verbenas will billow and flood over the rim of a pot, great for window boxes or lining a path, great too as cut flowers.


Perfect pelargoniums (Summer, p.28)

Sarah loves the scented leaf pelargoniums. Arthur kept ‘Prince of Orange’ (Summer, p.30) and ‘Attar of Roses’ (Summer, p.28) indoors over winter and noticed he had no aphids on these scented varieties. Sarah going big on pelargoniums this summer for her greenhouse and on xthe steps by the house. Her top pick is a new lot from 2021 trials:

Forever Pretty Pelargonium Collection (Summer, p.31) which includes:

·      ‘Torrento’ – smells of coca cola with pretty single pink flowers

·      ‘Lemon Fancy’ – Sarah uses the leaves for tisanes (read how to grow your own pelargonium tea) – with the scent of lemon sherbets

·      ‘Deerwood Lavender Lass’ – an angular, elegant, ethereal pelargonium (Summer, p.28)


Arthur’s pelargonium care tips

·      Arthur recommends watering and feeding pelargoniums once a fortnight with a liquid Seaweed Fertiliser.

·      Pinch out the leader tips to encourage vigorous side root formation and help bush out plants.

·      Pelargoniums can go out into the garden when it is mild enough, after the frosts. Bring inside to overwinter indoors before the autumn frosts begin – they make wonderful living houseplants.


·      Arthur’s Doorstep Dahlia Collection (Summer, p.33)

Vibrant single dahlias that are available in pots, worth it if you are short on space or too late to plant tubers. Arthur thinks potted dahlias make an ideal present.

·      Dahlias as Peonies Collection (Summer, p.36

This collection was inspired by the florist Sarah Ryhanen, from Saipua based in Brooklyn, USA. She adores peonies but they only flower for 2-3 weeks. Sarah set out to find dahlia equivalents as dahlias flower for 4-5 months and the more you pick, the more they flower. The four dahlias in this collection are as close to peonies as you can get and possibly even more beautiful!

·      Sustainable strawflowers (Summer, p.46)

Both Sarah and Arthur have strawflowers on their must-grow list. Perfect for drying, their colour doesn’t fade, and currently on trend with florists all over Instagram using them in everlasting arrangements. With single varieties in luscious orange, purple red and silvery rose, strawflowers are garden worthy and also lovely freshly picked for the vase.

·      Chrysanthemums (Summer, p.59, Late Summer, p.46)

Chrysanthemums come up to flower from September onwards giving invaluable autumn and winter colour. With a good mulch, they are pretty perennial at Perch Hill too. Sarah loves mixing apricot buff, crimson splashed ‘Pip Salmon’ (Late Summer, p.46) with oyster pink ‘Avignon Pink’ (Summer, p.59) and spiky and rich-coloured ‘Bigoudi Red’ adding a dash of sobriety to stop it all getting too candy coloured. Chrysanths last 3-4 weeks in a vase, with stem ends seared in boiling water first. Then once a week cut the stem ends off again and re-sear.

·      Solar allium stakes (Summer, p.97, Late Summer, p.61)

Arthur loves looking through the door and seeing these delicate, firework-like lights glowing in the dusk. The perfect complement for a summer evening in the garden.


Exclusive new dahlias (Summer, p.32, Late Summer, p.42)

Sarah’s final pick is a brand new dahlia. She is so excited by the dahlias being bred exclusively for Sarah Raven.

·      Dahlia ‘Abigail’ (Late Summer, p.42)

One step brighter than ‘Blue Bayou’ and more purple than blue, with a beautiful contrast between the flowers and slate-coloured stems and leaves, adored by bees and butterflies. Named after our head buyer, Abigail Dent, to celebrate her love of dahlias and that’s she’s worked for us now for ten years.

·      Dahlia ‘Lou Farman’ (Summer, p.37, Late Summer, p.44)

Our next recently bred dahlia, named after Sarah’s long-standing business partner and dear friend. She adores this large-flowered, single dahlia. It opens rich pink and fades elegantly with huge, open saucers, brilliant for all pollinators.

·      Rotheca myricoides 'Ugandense' (Late Summer, p.41)

A rarely seen tender shrub covered in butterfly shaped flowers in a magnificent shade of blue from mid-spring until the winter. Grow it in a conservatory or greenhouse or in a pot that can be moved indoors through the winter. Well worth the effort!