Visit Sarah Raven’s Garden & Cookery School at Perch Hill
Perch Hill, Robertsbridge, East Sussex
Perch Hill, the home of Sarah Raven, one of Britain’s best known gardening and food writers, offers a taste of gourmet gardening in deepest Sussex. Visit on an Open Day to see it in its full glory or book a gardening or cookery course.
Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill garden in East Sussex. Photos: Sarah Parry
Sarah Raven has made flowers such as the dahlia, with its jewel-like palette, sexy again for the English garden. She’s also made gardening more accessible for time-poor working women by cleverly putting together collections of bulbs and plants resulting in stunning displays.
The icing on the cake – she’s the author of several cookbooks and runs a varied programme of gardening and cookery courses at her Perch Hill home in Sussex. Don’t miss visiting for one of her regular Open Days or special events with guest speakers. You’ll receive a warm welcome, eat a delicious lunch and go home bursting with inspiration and an eagerness to put on your wellies and get out into your garden.
Sarah Raven Courses, Open Days & Gifts
- Garden Open Days
- Cookery and gardening courses
- Lovely Gift Shop
- Programme of special events
- Great day out for Foodie Gardeners
- Christmas shopping days
The Perch Hill Story
Sarah and her husband, Adam Nicolson, moved to this peaceful part of East Sussex in 1992 rescuing Perch Hill farm from years of neglect. What is immediately obvious, as you meander up the garden path, is that this has been a labour of love over many years, fuelled by a passion for plants and flowers.
Open Day visitors can admire Sarah Raven’s cutting garden
Visit Perch Hill For an Open Day
Visit for a summer garden Open Day and you’ll be greeted with swathes of colourful flowers, grouped together in places like a Monet painting, and punctuated with her signature Venetian-inspired gondola posts. The garden sings to you with its summery cheeriness but equally, feels deeply restful and restorative. As you wander through the garden ‘rooms’, nature’s healing presence envelopes you in its warm embrace.
Deep purple and pink salvia flowers
Enjoy a Relaxed Lunch
The Perch Hill team create simple seasonal dishes using garden produce so sit down and enjoy a light lunch served on decorative Emma Bridgewater plates. In the summer, they’ll prepare dishes such as lemon chicken salad or spicy aubergine served with warm pitta bread and potato salad. It comes dressed with Sarah’s recipe for Angelica’s sauce (also good for dipping artichokes). Whatever you do, leave room for tea and cake – the apple cake is scrumptious.
Listen To Sarah Raven Give a Talk
Take a seat in the barn and listen to Sarah give a talk on what’s best in the garden for the time of year. You’ll learn plenty of tips like searing rose stems in boiling water for 20 seconds makes them last much longer in a vase. As a champion of the cutting garden, Sarah encourages you to grow cosmos, sweet peas, dahlias and roses. They’ll reward you with plentiful home-grown bouquets.
Pelargoniums are some of her favourites for summer and autumn containers. With edible leaves, they’re ideal for using in the kitchen, especially for flavouring cordials. Elizabeth David flavoured fruit compotes with leaves from the Mabel Grey pelargonium which has a blackcurrant scent.
Perch Hill visitors smell the lavender
Pretty planted terracota pots
Have a Browse in the Perch Hill Gift Shop
In the Gift Shop, you’ll find displays of stylish tableware – cabbage leaf dishes, pretty coloured-glass tea lights, vintage candle sticks and French napkins. There are gloves, socks and handy slip-on clogs for gardeners and, for garden romantics, a heart-shaped trowel. It’s also the place to buy signed copies of Sarah Raven’s cook books. Why not go home with a copy of her Garden Cook Book to complete your day?
Do a Gardening or Cookery Course
Inspired by your visit, come back for a day course. There’s a wide range to choose from and the programme is refreshed each year. In such an intimate and restful setting, it’s an ideal place to switch off and learn new skills. Gardeners can discover the secrets of growing year round veg or learn how to create a cutting garden. Cooks can learn how to smoke and cure with Steve Lamb and Gill Meller from River Cottage.
- Perch Hill is a private home. Visits are on Open Days or by appointment only. Sarah Raven’s Gift Shop is open for special Christmas Shopping Days
- Look out for Sarah’s garden tour, dinner and lecture series incorporating the great gardens of Sissinghurst and Great Dixter with Perch Hill
- Sarah regularly travels around the country giving ‘Away Day’ talks at places such as Emma Bridgewater’s factory in Staffordshire
- It’s not an annual event but the Perch Hill Feast of Cooking, where festival-goers get to camp on the farm, invites special guest speakers such as Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall from River Cottage, the team at Ottolenghi and Sussex Foraging Experts, HunterGatherCook.
Mr Hendricks says, “Please check with Perch Hill. They tell me that they recently ran a course called ‘Top Dog’ with Kate Bendix. She’s written a book all about the best way to keep your dog healthy with a shiny coat, wet nose, bright eyes and svelte figure”.
Make a colourful beetroot carpaccio using ‘Boltardy’ and ‘Burpees Golden’ varieties and ‘Chioggia’ with its candy stripes . Slice thinly using a mandolin and marinate in lemon juice.
Planning a visit? Find Places to Stay Near Perch Hill
The Queen’s Inn
‘A newly renovated inn with a long history of warm welcomes.’
Rooms from £100 a night.
Field Green Oast B&B
A B&B in a converted square kiln oasthouse set in 10 acres of gardens and paddocks.
Rooms from £135 a night.
Heathfield, East Sussex
A pretty and charming country home set in a six-acre garden.
Rooms from £90 a night.
How to Find Perch Hill
Perch Hill Farm
Sarah Raven’s Garden & Cookery School
Perch Hill Farm, Willingford Lane, Brightling, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5HP
The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.