The Socks decided to make the most of the autumn sun yesterday and took a trip out to Sarah Raven's NGS Open Day stopping via The Griffin at Fletching for lunch.
The Griffin is our favourite 'lunching' pub combining unfailingly good food and ambience but still retaining the feeling of an inn. In the winter you can sit and frazzle by the log fire in the front bar but for summer weekends a large and very good barbeque is set up in the back garden where you can eat whilst drinking in the lovely views over to the Sussex Downs.
After lunch, top-down on the Sock's VW Beetle (for probably only the second time this year!) we pootled round the Sussex lanes until we found Sarah's place at Perch Hill. Entrance is through the 'cutting garden' which was full of magnificent dahlias and zinnias. Earlier in the week the Sock had asked Fat Rascal if she could identify a flower photo. It turned out to be a zinnia and we agreed we had thought it an 'old fashioned flower you don't hear much about these days' until google images had produced pictures of some rather attractive specimens. The Sock felt much the same about Sarah's collection, some fabulous blowsy blooms, some attractively architecturally sculptured, mostly not things the Sock would like in her own garden but occasionally a very chic specimen that would brighten her border.
The garden 'rooms' led on to an excellent vegetable garden. Lovely rustic obelisks, rows of splendid lettuces, the Socks were feeling more than a little envious so were quite pleased to see that even Sarah Raven's tomatoes hadn't avoided the blight!
But now for the bit you have all been waiting for! The Shopping! Sarah Raven is famed for her somewhat 'overpriced' goodies in her catalogue so it was with more than a little curiousity that the Sock headed for the shop. In fact there was little to buy (sadly no boots at all!) although this didn't stop the Bedsock buying Sarah Raven's 'Garden Cookery' book for £25 to add to his never ending collection.
However look at this... more twine than you can shake a stick at!!
The Sock needs some garden twine after being told off for taking the Bedsock's cooking string out into the garden and leaving it there. This twine came in a convenient and attractive tin with a little hole in the top to pull it through and was only...... £7.50..... Hmmm... perhaps the Sock didn't need it that much and there was not even a cutting edge for the twine as it came out of the tin which would have been handy. Perhaps the Sock should just have the twine refill at ...£3.75..... perhaps not.* The Sock denied herself the twine on the basis she has a nice tin at home she can drill a hole in... but of course she never will.
The Sock had been hoping to give some more entertaining criticism of the gardens but in the event they were quite charming with everything to like. A confusingly crammed, jungly, exotic planting outside the Oast House was quite exuberant.
The gardens seemed much like Sarah Raven's GW persona - slightly eccentric, quirky and far from immaculate but this gave it the feel of a well-used, well-loved 'real' garden and not just a show piece. The Sock's favourite planting was the New Perennial Garden outside the cottage. It was labelled as a scheme for "lots of soft textures and movement in this very enclosed space" and this is certainly how it felt.
On the drive home the Socks gritted their teeth against the cool of the late afternoon and kept the hood down - it will almost certainly be their last chance this year!
* Later investigation on the net found the same twine tins for under £6.00.
It was also with a wry smile that the Sock noted on Sarah Raven's garden website that 'volunteers' are always welcome to come and work in the garden! Can they not afford to pay people?