Episode 84 - Show Notes & Advice

Grow, cook, eat, arrange podcast 84
Grow, cook, eat, arrange podcast - 84

episode 84 | show notes & advice

Episode description

An exciting sneak preview of Sarah and Arthur’s favourites from the latest trials at Perch Hill. Every year there are hundreds of trials taking place at Perch Hill to see what works well and what Sarah and Arthur love the most. It’s a sizeable operation involving Sarah and Arthur, Head Gardener Josie and the gardening team, as well as the plant buying team who select the plants and seeds to trial and then ensure enough is available to be able to sell it in the catalogue and online. Sarah and Arthur are constantly sharing ideas back and forth, with inspiration sourced from garden centres, walks, and holidays. They also love combining new and old favourites in the vase, which then contribute to the decision-making process of what to grow together in future years. 


In this episode, discover .....

• Sarah and Arthur’s favourites from the most recent trials at Perch Hill

• A new modular system of seed tray made from sustainable rubber 

• The new Rudbeckias on the block

• Cosmos for an urban garden (and vase)

• A mint for every taste and purpose, and other favourite edibles on trial

• Sarah’s favourite combination of Zinnias 


Fig 'Brown Turkey'
Fig 'Brown Turkey'
Papaver commutatum 'Ladybird'
Papaver commutatum 'Ladybird'

Episode 84 advice sheet

Sarah’s new favourites from the latest trials

Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ (annual poppy)

Colouring: Wonderful pillar box red with four black splotches at the centre

Position / Aspect at Perch Hill: In a west-facing border, sunny in morning, shady in the afternoon 

Flowering: about 6 weeks

Why trialled: Sarah grew them 10 years ago so she decided to bring them back into the repertoire

Papaver rhoeas ‘Amazing Grey’ (perennial)

Colouring: The perfect crinkled tissue paper flower varying in colour from silvery grey with quite a lot of white, to darker and more sombre, to a touch of slate purple. 

Pollinators: Bees and butterflies love them

Sown: In modules, then planted out with 100% germination this year

In the vase: A knockout but only last 2 days

Why trialled: Their Instagram fame made Sarah want to buck the trend, but it was impossible to, as it’s the most beautiful thing. 


When to sow poppies?

• Sow any of the annual and / or biennial poppies now

• As they’re hardy, if you’ve got a cold frame, polytunnel or greenhouse, put some into 9cm pots to put out March / April 


Gardening kit trials include a new modular system of seed tray made from rubber 

• The squidgy rubber material makes for easy removal, and therefore better protection, of the plant and its roots.

• Made from sustainable rubber, not plastic

• Doesn’t collapse in the heat and light

• Brilliant for poppies


Rudbeckias – new varieties to look out for

• Trialling 12 different varieties at Perch Hill

• The ‘Enchanted’ series (currently on trial) came into flower at the end of June and now in early autumn, they’re still pumping away.

• People can be dismissive of rudbeckias, but they’re real troopers, especially the rich colours in crimson, aubergine and mahogany.

• They go on producing as long as you keep picking, which may even be almost up until Christmas.

• Some, for example, ‘Cherry Brandy’ overwinter well. The key thing is not to cut them back.

• Pot compatible in terms of size: around 45cm

• Vase life: 10 days to 2 weeks if stem ends are seared in boiling water

• Two lovely ones are ‘Enchanted Forest’ (green) and ‘Enchanted Night Velvet’ (crimson)

• Availability: either next year or the following year, as trials precede availability


Arthur and Sarah


• Arthur likes ‘Apricotta’ and ‘Apricot Lemonade’

• All of them are single so the bees love them

• They have beautiful airy habits and are very healthy, thriving even in the dry heat. None of those being trialled seem to have that browny rust of the foliage.

• Sarah has been picking them since the beginning of July and they’re still pumping away

• Sarah loves the ‘Apricot Lemonade’, especially growing with the Lychnis in a water trough.

• Any of the petite cosmos are ideal for a small urban garden, if you want a pot you can pick from to your heart’s content for flowers inside as well as out.


Sweet peas 

• ‘Emilia Fox’ is Arthur’s favourite of the new varieties, with “such good scent, like ‘Matucana’ in colour but a bit bigger”.

• Sarah loves ‘Windsor’, a lovely dark red, like saturated port wine similar to ‘King Edward VII’, and ‘Winston Churchill’ - another dark red. All of these three have fantastic scent.

• ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ is being trialled for pots and containers, which is like a compact ‘Painted Lady’. Even though it was sown late, it’s flowering, and is quite petite and delicate, so would make lovely table centres for a wedding or summer party.








Arthur’s new favourites 


• Arthur has loved seeing the figs emerge from their pots; some seemed to take a while to bud up and grow but they’ve all loved the heat over the last few months, and a few have fruit on.

• There are 7 varieties on trial, so it will be interesting to see the difference in taste.

• Figs are drought tolerant, and fruit much more heavily with their roots restricted by growing them in pots / containers.

• The foliage looks so luscious, like a huge fig umbrella, even in the heat.

• Variety ‘Brown Turkey’ is a brown fruiter, with the first ones ripening already, which Sarah says are delicious. It’s looking like it will be really prolific too.



• Arthur loved seeing the containers full of mint this summer; there are 16 different varieties on trial - all different flavours and scents.

• They’ve improved throughout the season, having arrived as 9cm plants, and those that have been cut back have quickly filled up the buckets, enjoying that containment.

• Of the varieties on trial, Sarah and Arthur will select some for the kitchen and some for the vase. Sarah even used mint as part of a wedding bouquet recently, for its lovely scent.

• Sarah’s recommendation for mint tea: ‘Black Peppermint’ (even more than the classic ‘Moroccan’ spearmint), with a black stem and black midrib to the leaf.

• Arthur’s recommendation for picking is ‘Strawberry’, and ‘Grapefruit’ for the gin glass.

• Mint is a good entry point for first-time gardeners, as it helps to grow a love of gardening when you bring something into the house and cook with it, and then appreciate it. Many cooks and chefs have become gardeners through their use of fresh herbs. 

• Mint in pots tip: Mint derives the flavour for their essential oil through minerals, so if you don’t repot them, they will gradually lose their flavour. Tip: either in autumn (as they go into dormancy), or in spring (March/April) when they’re emerging from dormancy, take them out, cut them into 4 and repot them in new compost (can be same pot). This will help retain the minty flavour. 

• Mint in the ground tip: Find a place where they can romp away like ground cover, i.e., under a hedge or around the back of a shed, meaning you can pick to your heart’s content and not worry about them becoming invasive. 



• Arthur spied a wonderful new basil in the greenhouse ‘Purple Ruffles’ (Purple Basil) which looks like the feathers of a fancy pigeon.



• Arthur wanted to grow tomatoes for the first time this year, having been inspired by Sarah growing them in troughs, and their mutual friend Shane Connolly (a former podcast guest), who has tomatoes as a living floral tapestry down his dining table.

• They’ve loved the heat, plus a twice weekly seaweed feed by Arthur, along with little mulches of organic farmyard manure added to the top of the pot.

• Arthur has ‘Micro Cherry’ in very small pots, and it looks wonderful. He plans to bring them into the house as a living floral arrangement as much as for their lovely leaf and tomato scent.


Sarah has been bowled over by… 


Herbaceous Clematis durandii

• In flower for three months 

• Bred as a cut flower so doesn’t form the tendrils

• Sarah is planning a whole clematis trial for picking and flower pressing next year


Zinnias – most loved in the cut flower patches this season

• Not new varieties, but new growing together, Sarah loves Zinnia ‘Queeny Red Lime’ and ‘Queeny Orange Lime’. Both have a muted but saturated palate of green with either deep pinky, smoky crimson, or green with a very greeny orange. They looked sensational picked for a bucket and were Sarah’s most loved in the cut flower patches this season. Certainly something for sowing next May into your rubber seed tray. 

• Zinnias are ideal for buttonholes, and ‘Lilliput Mix’ lasted really well out of water.

• Arthur has a pot of the ‘Aztec Burgundy’ mix this year which survived because he used the rubber seed tray, avoiding root disturbance. He just plopped them out and into the main pot and now they look like a big umbrella of circus flowers. They also have a vase life of a month.