Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Today I'm going to be ........ Sarah Raven

I love Sarah Raven, I totally agree with her gardening and cooking philosophy, I want to be here. I knew she was married to the writer Adam Nicolson but I hadn't realised until watching the recent BBC Sissinghurst programme that the family had moved into the former home of Adam's grandmother Vita Sackville-West and were battling with the National Trust to turn the castle back to a working farm and garden providing fresh home grown ingredients to the restaurant. I can understand how this must have felt like wading through treacle. A friend of mine worked in the kitchens of a National Trust property in North Yorkshire, baking delicious cakes, scones and biscuits for the tea room there. When she took up the post the kitchen was producing tiny little scones, less than half the size of a normal one and selling them in pairs. My friend wanted to make bigger scones but she was never allowed to do this, she and I found the miniature ones really irritating and I imagine most of the customers did too.I recently sent for Sarah's kitchen and garden catalogue, as much for inspiration as anything else. It contains a good selection of vegetable, herb and flower seeds, some beautiful collections and an array of great things for the garden, including an amazing pair of lace up boots that Sarah does wear herself. I spent a happy half hour yesterday sitting out on the patio drinking coffee, reading and wondering about those £75 boots.Best of all I got a free packet of seeds with the catalogue, cream sweet pea Mrs Collier which scores 8/10 on Sarah's fragrance scale. I'd already started my sweet peas for this year but I did sow a few from the packet yesterday because I couldn't resist, I am keeping most of them for next year. So I've been busy in my own kitchen garden planting seeds, broad beans, sugar peas, spinach, salad leaves and some companion marigolds and chamomile, Mr FF says it's still too early for most of these but I think Sarah wanted me to do it.


  1. Ah! Sissinghurst, National Trust tea rooms...
    I miss England.
    Beautiful post. Thank you.


  2. I had the exact same conversation about Sarah Raven and Sissinghurst with my mother last week following on from the BBC programme! I have one of Sarah's books and her cutting garden is wonderful, as is her bank of pumpkins.

    Good for you getting everything in the ground now while we have such nice warm weather and soil. if necessary you can always cover the seedlings up with straw or a cloche if a frost threatens.

  3. I have Sarah's (see how we're on first name terms?!)Christmas book which I love. Our garden, sadly neglected of late, is in dire need of some inspiration so maybe I should have a look at her catalogue. Oh, and I'm now craving scones!

  4. You are so right about Sarah Raven and wasn't that a great series? (Adam Nicholson's book is a delight too.) A friend of mine went to work in a National Trust restaurant having managed a highly successful teashop for several years. She hated it.

    Those boots are Danish, by Ilse Jacobsen. I've had a pair in that nut-brown colour for several years and can honestly say that they have given me more pleasure than any other boots I've ever worn. It cheers me up just to look at them. But apart from the aesthetics, they are warm and hard-wearing, great for gardening, dog walking and for going out in when it's raining . . . can't recommend them too highly. I think you deserve a pair.

  5. Hello Jenny,
    I'm thrilled you left a comment on my blog, because it's led me to your wonderful Blog! I love the title of your blog!
    I'm a huge fan of Sarah Raven too, her catalogues always make me wish I had a bigger garden. I love her colour sense, and her whole sense of style.
    I did watch some of that programme you mention, but got progressively more fed up with it the more Sarah's ideas weren't put into practise. I think I found that whole restaurant floor charade totally irritating. What a waste of time and money when it looked the same as when they'd started. And why couldn't it have been painted? There are other Nat. Trust restaurants that are all painted! I stopped watching it in the end, it was all too exasperating!
    Anyway, I'm glad you're going to be Sarah Raven, if there's anyone to emulate, she's a good one!
    Love Vanessa xxx (do you mind if i knit)

  6. Wow...I didn't make the connection to Sarah Raven and the Nicolson family before either. I love her methods of gardening, and always enjoy and learn much from her articles and books. Happy Gardening and Happy Weekend! :o) ((HUGS))

  7. I have 2 great Sarah Raven books, both are full of useful tips and wonderful pictures of her beautiful planting schemes in her garden. I wondered why she wasn't on Gardeners' World anymore, but the Sissinghurst project must be all consuming, along with her other business. Not sure about the boots though, it looks like a palaver getting them on and off :)