Salutation, appreciation and celebration

You may have heard of The Salutation in Sandwich because of its colourful previous owners who regularly featured on the tv show Gogglebox. It may have put you off visiting (or it may not) but the place is now under new ownership and is a super-elegant boutique hotel and restaurant (which is receiving rave reviews), a lovely tearooms and a glorious garden. You can visit the gardens, without staying at the hotel or partaking of food, for £8 (or £15 for a year’s subscription, which, frankly, is a bargain).

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, The Salutation was built in 1912 on the site of a market garden and pub. You can see the Lutyens influence in the way the gardens are laid out in distinct areas with clever sight-lines and pleasing symmetry, and hidden nooks and crannies. These days, the deep borders and beds are jam-packed with lush planting, crammed with unusual and exotic plants, perennials, grasses, annuals and fruit and veg, but the star plants at this time of year are the dahlias. Head gardener, Steve Edney, is a member of the RHS Dahlia Committee and it’s clear he knows his stuff. It’s the Salutation’s 8th Dahlia Festival this coming weekend and visitors are in for a treat – there are large planters of pristine dahlias, whole borders just of different varieties of dahlia, and large clumps of striking dahlias dotted here and there among other plants. They obviously have their slugs and snails well under control.

I had such a lovely time wandering around the garden soaking in the beauty of the place that I failed to make a note of the different dahlia varieties but I’m fairly sure that the striking, dark, star-shaped one above is ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’ (which is a fantastic name). As much as I love them, I have decided to give up on trying to grow dahlias for the time being – I just can’t be bothered with plants that require hyper-vigilance when it comes to pests. And now that I’ve found this local gallery of dahlia perfection, I am content to leave it to the experts and appreciate their efforts instead.

In other news… It was my younger son’s sixteenth birthday on Tuesday. Sixteen. How did that happen?! He’s grown from a sunny, yellow-haired poppet into a funny, mostly sunny (with occasional dark clouds), intelligent, kind, tall string bean who shares my appreciation of a tidy room, loves his Dad’s baking and is there with a hug if needed. Oh, and his cake of choice is coffee and walnut.

My daughter making a cameo appearance 🙂

Hope all’s well with you and that you have a lovely weekend.



20 thoughts on “Salutation, appreciation and celebration

  1. Coffee and walnut is a big favourite here too. I hope he had a lovely day. We have a 14th birthday coming up here, I can hardly believe it. There will certainly be cake. The Salutation gardens are divine, and what a great value for a year’s membership. I’ve finally grown a dahlia this year, I’m so proud of it. I’ve lost countless ones before though. CJ xx

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  2. I feel embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t really care for dahlias. It saves me a lot of work, though! Funny and kind? What more could you ask for in a 16-year-old son? Happy Birthday to him.

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  3. Another milestone reached. Wish him happy birthday from us. Beautiful garden. I’m going to try dahlias again next year after a year or three away. My in laws grow drifts of them to perfection. I shall pick pa in laws secret! X

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  4. A wise decision Sam. Dahlias are gorgeous but really need all day sunshine and masses of muck to do well and in my garden there are other plants I’d rather grow so tuberous and from seed dahlias are confined to the allotment where they grow bigger than me! I grew Sarah Raven’s Bishop’s children from seed this year and they have been hugely successful, and easy. I kept some back at home for a June plant sale and they were chomped. I seem to have visited lots of dahlia-friendly gardens recently: Great Dixter, Great Comp (a RHS partner garden not far from Sevenoaks and open until the end of October, this had fantastic grasses too) and we’re just back from staying a couple of nights at Arne Maynard’s house in the Usk valley on our way home from Wales. Oh my goodness Sam I may have to try and write a blog post to share. Or have a look at his website where his gardener writes a garden diary. It was breathtaking. September is birthday season here too and c&w cake a favourite. Hope you all had a lovely day. Sarah x

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    1. Hello Sarah, lovely to hear from you. I’ve not been to Great Comp – I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the tip. Oh, and I’d love to hear about your visit to Arne Maynard’s house! I follow his gardener on Instagram and it looks amazing. How wonderful to stay there. As for dahlias… I’m concentrating on lower-maintenance plants for now and will try again some other time! Well done on growing some from seed. Sam x


  5. Hey Sam,
    The only dahlias that grew this year are in a pot on my front step. The others either got slugged or didn’t flower. So I’m also giving them up. Luckily the national dahlia collection isn’t far from me, and I’ve found a lovely green grocer that sells them too.
    Happy birthday to your son. 16 really is a good age, I think.
    Leanne xx

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  6. That does sound a bargain to visit that lovely garden! Belated birthday wishes to your son. Our daughter was 25 today and I don’t know where the time has gone with her either! Sarah x

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