Sarah Raven's Garden

4 March 2008

I can’t believe the first two months of the year have already gone, but it’s always nice to feel the signs of spring in the air. We’ve had quite a mild winter this year – seeing lots of sunshine in the middle of the British winter seems odd but it has kept me happy nonetheless :)

I wanted to share my recent excursion with fellow food blogger Shalimar, whose work on a yacht takes her all over the world (she often sends me beautiful postcards and some nice things too :)) We’ve been talking for quite some time now but had never had a chance to meet before. A while ago, she told me that she would be in the UK visiting her friend who works at a very special garden in East Sussex (south east of London) – so I jumped at the chance to join her when I was invited.

The garden at Perch Hill is run by Sarah Raven who writes and teaches about gardening and cookery, and Shalimar’s friend Bea has been working there as the head gardener. I had heard a lot about this place and always wanted to visit myself. Unfortunately Sarah wasn’t there when we were visiting but Bea kindly showed us around.

With a wonderful view of the neighbouring hills, it’s the kind of place you instantly fall in love with – charming, (very) old buildings in a tranquil setting, it’s got everything that the perfect English countryside should have (if there is such a thing!). There would have been more colours and more things in bloom had it been spring or summer, but I was still happy just walking around the place thinking how beautiful it must be in the warmer months (Shalimar posted some gorgeous images here from her visit last summer). I wasn’t the only one thinking this as there were many young plants growing in greenhouse nurseries, waiting for the summer too.

Bea lives in a lovely 17th century cottage in the grounds and kindly let us stay with her. Between her busy schedule running some of the courses as well as working with volunteers, she picked some winter vegetables from the garden and cooked a lovely dinner for us – no need to say that we were extremely happy diners :)

We tend to think that there aren’t many possibilities when you think of what kind of fruit and veg you can grow in the UK, but seeing Sarah’s garden there are so many things that we can grow and it has certainly encouraged me. I’ve decided to try more things in our allotment this year – I shall report on our progress :) I was totally fascinated by Bea’s knowledge, passion and love for her work – she knows how to get the most out of life!

I’ve been cooking from Sarah’s new book too – pictured are some of the dishes I’ve tried (from top right) rhubarb syllabub, pear, chicory and Stilton (English blue cheese) salad, savoy cabbage, coriander and coconut soup. Her recipes are simple and delicious, I wish I could have all the fruit and veg for the recipes in our own garden! (speaking of cooking from your garden, I’ve been enjoying this book too)

Shalimar is now back to Florida, but has promised to come back to the UK sometime in the spring, so I’m already looking forward to another visit there together…

Oh and while I’m here, I’ll just remind you that my dear fellow blogger Barbara is once again calling for entries to A Taste of Yellow in aid of Live Strong Day – I’m hoping to participate this year, looking forward to seeing your yellow creations too!

Places    Misc    61 comments    Permalink

  • Hi Keiko, seeing your pictures made me miss England very much! The countryside has a calming effect and reminds me of my stay in Belfast long ago…

    Posted by shereen | 4 March 2008 #
  • Did you take all those pictures? they’re beautiful!

    Posted by Emma | 4 March 2008 #
  • cant wait to go back there when the garden is in full bloom… and we shall feast again. cant wait. i felt so much happiness and sadness seeing this piece Keiko… mainly I miss England and Bea as well.

    Happy that you enjoyed your stay and we will go back again soon…

    Posted by shalimar | 4 March 2008 #
  • what a beautiful garden!

    Posted by kat | 4 March 2008 #
  • Konnichiwa Keiko-san,

    I can’t also believe the first two months of the year have already gone.

    Anyway, thank you for nice pictures. How wonderful this garden is!

    Posted by yukko | 4 March 2008 #
  • Keiko, gorgeous photos again! I have to start setting up a small vegetable garden in my back yard soon, and your photos are a great inspiration. Thank you!

    Posted by Pille | 4 March 2008 #
  • I love the early morning feel to many of the photos. The light is beautiful. The cabbage just blows me away with its beauty. Thanks for sharing this!

    Posted by L Vanel | 4 March 2008 #
  • hi keiko, indeed spring is in the air, and your pictures had just reminded everyone on how beautiful this time of year could be, even if there are still occasional days of frost (and snow!)... :)

    Posted by Lil | 4 March 2008 #
  • Keiko, your pictures fill me with wonder. They truly tell a story. Excellent!

    Posted by Donald | 4 March 2008 #
  • finally you updated! thank you for your sharing all of these. inspired me a lot.

    Posted by mylittleindieday | 4 March 2008 #
  • Thanks for these lovely pictures. It is true there was a bit of early spring this year, I just hope it will stay…

    Posted by Malvina | 4 March 2008 #
  • Amazing photos – I could almost smell the cool, crisp air of spring.

    Posted by Ginger M. | 5 March 2008 #
  • Dearest Keiko, nobody, but nobody, captures the rambling, slightly untamed beauty of the English countryside like you do…thanks to this utterly inspirational post and series of exquisite pictures, I must now make a beeline for the cookbook section in the local Kinokuniya and pick up a copy of Ms Raven’s book, which I remember seeing a few weeks ago and had made a mental note to check out having first seen it in the cookbook sidebar of Nordljus ;-) Can’t wait to hear more (and see pictures) of your allotment-in-progress! xo, Joycelyn

    Posted by Joycelyn | 5 March 2008 #
  • Beautiful – I love the picture with all of the forks in particular!

    Sarah’s garden cookbook is gorgeous – I love the way the photography and pages/typesetting complement each other. I bought a copy of the book for Christmas and loved it so much I immediately ordered myself a copy!

    Posted by Sophie | 5 March 2008 #
  • I’ve just come across your wonderful blog – your photographs are truly beautiful!

    Posted by Alfie | 5 March 2008 #
  • I love your ‘eye’ you take such beautiful pictures! I am also really excited about spring’s arrival….thank you for sharing such lovley images.

    Posted by hag | 5 March 2008 #
  • Dear Keiko~

    What a beautiful place to spend a weekend at! I often found a lot of amazing (perhaps I should say stunning) eatery/nursery thru your blog and I so wish that I reside in London so that I can visit them myself! Though many have already praised you on these stunning photos of your, I have to add to it that you, as always, captured the beauty of this countryside garden. You have a gift with that camera and perhaps a book project is already underway =)

    Posted by venus | 5 March 2008 #
  • wow.. they are breathtaking. You have a gift, such wonderful photography, did you have special training.

    You made the subjects look alive…

    Posted by marilene | 6 March 2008 #
  • Oh Keiko – how lovely! I have also recently fallen in love with marmalade bread & butter pudding but mine was made with plain old white bread, not brioche ;-) Stunning pictures as always. You are a true artist.

    Posted by Jeanne | 6 March 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    Your world is so beautiful. Thank you.

    Posted by Camille | 6 March 2008 #
  • I would love to see those gardens in the spring. I’m also realizing that it will be time to start planting foods for the garden, and though I don’t think I’m green-thumbed enough to take on anything daring I am looking forward to the growing season. And my sunshine on my face.

    Posted by Annemarie | 6 March 2008 #
  • Dear Keiko – Thanks for yet another inspiring post. It is such a joy to visit your blog and see what you’ve been up to. I bought Indulge after your last post and am currently in love with the book!

    Posted by Cenk | 7 March 2008 #
  • Thanks Keiko for the shout out for Livestrong Day. What a lovely day you had. Beautiful photos made me feel as if I was there with you.

    Posted by barbara | 7 March 2008 #
  • How very astonishingly beautiful.

    Posted by Vegeyum | 8 March 2008 #
  • what a lovely trip. It is nice to read your post from Singapore.

    Posted by valentina | 8 March 2008 #
  • Keiko-san.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos.
    They are so inspiring.
    I’d love to visit Sarah’s garden!

    Posted by mami | 8 March 2008 #
  • How lovely to get a glimpse…all the way from Seattle! That photo of the knives is just beautiful! So quiet and lovely, the entire suite of photos!

    Posted by Cakespy | 10 March 2008 #
  • How beautiful !
    I love your pictures so much.
    They are so inspiring.
    Thank you.

    Posted by P57 | 11 March 2008 #
  • What a great inspiration!

    Posted by tostilocos | 11 March 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    2008 isn’t taking breaks, is it? I’m glad Spring is here, and those lovely photos of yours make me miss the peacefulness of a countryside (never lived in such place though but would love to visit from time to time)...I’m a city girl…I got to enjoy beautiful SF for a month before heading back to South of France soon. A new beginning for me…if you (still) sneak peek my blog lately ;-P

    Busy busy time for you…best of luck. Good to see that you’re back into the swing of things again :-) Thanks for this inspiration…

    Posted by Maya | 11 March 2008 #
  • Am so enjoying your blog that it is one a.m. in California and I’m still reading!
    The only other times I’ve felt compelled to do this was the first time I read Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts and Rose Berenbaum’s Cake Bible. Through the years a good cookery book pops up that grabs my attention, like Alice Waters, who’s restaurant was probably the best meal of my life, and I simply can’t put it down, cover to cover. Your blog has the same affect; the simplicity of brilliance rings true! I cannot comprehend how you take stunning pictures and make such tantalizing dishes without formal training! I think that fact alone offers hope to conquer timidness about cooking and baking.

    May I ask if you know how to make something called Malted Fruit Bread? I loved it morning noon and night as an au pair in England once upon a great many years ago. My favorite brand was called “French’s”. Went so far as to have some shipped from Harrod’s, but their’s was a dense texture with whole wheat and too heavy for my taste. I have never ever seen it made in the states.

    Posted by Vicki | 12 March 2008 #
  • Where do I go to buy JICHAMA?

    Posted by JOSEPH J. ADAMS | 12 March 2008 #
  • I love your photography, you have a great eye for a shot, really inspiring to see. I’ve just started my own blog, where I intend to bring together really good photography with revolutionary healthy eating recipes in one place.

    The idea that is that good wholesome healthy food and can be a an absolute joy to cook and eat, and so far it’s working. I’ve lot 5lbs and created some of the most exciting taste sensations of my life. Let me know your thoughts.

    Posted by Ben Holden | 12 March 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I just adore your photography. It is so beautiful and inspired. I first found your site when I was living in Paris last year and am back in London now.

    I am currently designing a website for a property search company I wish to set up, focusing on the Cambridge area. I wondered whether by any chance you would have any photographs of Cambridge that I could possibly buy from you. I actually just need one picture for the homepage.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards, Fiona

    Posted by Fiona | 13 March 2008 #
  • Wow! Keiko your photos are always so inspiring!

    Posted by campodifragole | 13 March 2008 #
  • Beautiful photos…I especially like the seedlings in the greenhouse…it screams springtime!

    Posted by DoughGirl | 17 March 2008 #
  • Darn me! I keep drifting back to your site every time I open the internet! I can’t stay away from the yumminess of your creations!

    Posted by Sarah | 19 March 2008 #
  • Your photos remind me of the ones in Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me.

    I loooooooooooove that book.

    What kind of camera and lens do you use?

    Posted by S. from The Student Stomach | 20 March 2008 #
  • You are seriously talented Keiko! I wish I could visit the English countryside right now :)

    Posted by Kelli | 23 March 2008 #
  • Hi!
    I just found your blog (via a French blog!)
    I´m from Sweden so your blogname caught my interest. Your blog/website is beautiful! I love the photos, so fresh!
    Have a nice day,

    Posted by Mia | 24 March 2008 #
  • Dear Keiko, I’ve been looking for a Charlotte aux Poires and came across yours.

    it brings back childhood memories for me and unfortunately the bakery has stopped selling it :( it was amazingly good with tart raspberry sauce.

    would you kindly do a translation of the recipe for a novice baker or perhaps give me the name of the japanese cook book it came from?

    thank you

    Posted by pinkconfetti | 25 March 2008 #
  • Hi There,

    You have a wonderful blog! I love the pictures you have taken. Will be popping by more often. =)

    Posted by Jade | 25 March 2008 #
  • I love your shots dear keiko!
    Always simply perfect… :-***
    A kiss from Tatina & me

    Posted by sandra | 25 March 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko-san,

    Your photos are breathtaking and so inspiring!!

    Seeing your photos reminds me of the time I spent in UK (I lived in S. Yorkshire), and also makes me England so much even thought the grey sky and condensation on the windows (before putting double glazing my house had those windows)!

    I would love to visit Sarah’s Garden one day.. Posted by megusta | 31 March 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    I really love you site; such lovely photographs. I was hoping that you might be able to suggest a good French pastry book, for things like macaroons, madeleines, Saite Honore and the like. Thank you!

    Posted by Hiyam | 2 April 2008 #
  • Nice shots as usual, Keiko.

    Posted by Thip | 2 April 2008 #
  • Beautiful site. I live in West of Ireland and grow veg and flowers organically. and love the food.Sarah is very inspirering person, and you too. looking forward to reading your next writing and viewing photos.

    Posted by Eriko HOPKINSON | 6 April 2008 #
  • There is nothing I can add whatsoever to all the comments (and compliments) you have received. Save to say that this is truly the best site I have ever visited and I have added you to my links for this reason.

    Very best wishes.

    Posted by Sally | 6 April 2008 #
  • Your photos are amazing. I really like them. Well done!

    Posted by melda | 6 April 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko—thanks for the kinds words on the blog. :) Your visit in East Sussex sounds so relaxing and fabulous! Thanks for sharing, and as usual, for posting wonderful photos. Can’t wait to see more food stuffs and foliage!

    Posted by Mindy | 8 April 2008 #
  • I was just 10 minutes ago looking through the Sarah Raven book thinking what seasonal dishes should I have a go at this month when I turned by chance to your blog and saw your fab pics of her recipes. It’s a yes! to the rhubarb syllabub and coconut soup which look fantastic… thanks for the inspiration.

    Posted by Jane | 9 April 2008 #
  • Hello!

    I have very much enjoyed your blog (secretly) for a while. I wanted to thank you for your excellent and inspiring work by passing on a nomination for “E is for Excellent”.

    Great work! Thank you,


    Posted by Sweet Tooth | 11 April 2008 #
  • Dear Keiko,

    Thank you for having this blog. You are inspiring. I found Hidemi’s books at Singapore’s Kinokuniya and will be ready to taste the desserts in reality.


    Posted by Sri Utami | 12 April 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko san,

    I’ve just come here via là {} and I’m already in love with this wonderful space. It’s so fresh and inspiring! As a begginer in gardening and cat-food-photo lover, I know I will enjoy every post and picture.

    P. S. The third group of photos {that one with the forks and knives} is specially gorgeous!

    Thank you for sharing your great work,
    Cristina {from South America, Brazil}

    Posted by Cris Catlover | 18 April 2008 #
  • What beautiful photographs you take! Just stunning.

    Posted by Bento box | 22 May 2008 #
  • Hi everyone, thanks so much for all your kind notes and I’m sorry I didn’t get back sooner.

    Vicki – I’m afraid I’ve never made nor have tasted it… looks like there are many recipes available online so maybe I should give it a try sometime…!

    Joseph – I believe you meant jicama…? I actually never heard of it but looks like a type of potato/turnip – I’m not sure where you’re based and I don’t have a good idea where to get it…

    S – I use a Canon 5D with 90mm/60mm macro for food shots.

    Pinkconfetti – I looked at amazon Japan but it looks like it’s discontinued…

    Posted by keiko | 1 July 2008 #
  • This makes we want to get out and garden. Some of the most incredible photos. Makes me homesick (I’m a Brit living in Seattle).. Boy do I miss the English countryside.

    Posted by matt wright | 24 July 2008 #
  • loved sarahs gardeners world on a river of flowers ,always plant things to help the wildlife, wish the whole world did.

    Posted by jan | 1 September 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko, beautiful pictues! What type of lens do you use for travel?

    Posted by rose | 8 October 2008 #
  • Hi Matt – oh, sorry I made you homesick, but I’m sure Seattle is one of the loveliest cities to live in… Hope you can come back to the English countryside sometime soon.

    Hi Jan – I agree, I’m looking forward to going back to her garden sometime.

    Hi Rose – I normally take 50mm, 90mm and 135mm with my Canon 5D.

    Posted by keiko | 28 October 2008 #
  • Nice post. Thanks.

    Posted by | 13 March 2012 #

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