WE WERE fortunate to be able to have two weeks away in the Lakes and the Cotswolds recently and were able to visit many great gardens along the way. The most memorable were Holker Hall near Grange on Sands, Hutton in the Forest, near Penrith and Rydal Mount, near Grasmere. It is always interesting to visit other people’s gardens and seek to get inspiration for things you can do in your own. These three however, were on such a grand scale, I can only admire what I saw and enjoy the experience. That said, there were some dreamy planting schemes that I might try and reproduce on a much smaller scale.

If you want to visit a lovely garden this weekend then why not try Forest Ridge, Paddockhurst Lane in Balcombe. It is a charming 4.5 acre Victorian garden with far-reaching views, boasting the oldest Atlantic cedar in Sussex. It opens for the National Garden Scheme between 2pm and 6pm, both days, with entry £5. The owners are currently undertaking a major restoration: felling, planting and redesigning areas. Within the garden there are formal and informal areas, woodland dell and mini arboretum. Azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias abound with rare and unusual species. The major restoration project has opened up new vistas to enjoy. Full details at www.ngs.org.uk

In your own plot, a timely job at the moment would be to attend to finished spring bulbs. Once they’ve gone over, try to resist the temptation to cut back the foliage. To be honest, I sometimes struggle not to because I need to ensure everything is perfect for opening next month June. Ideally let the foliage die and break down on its own and add liquid fertiliser all around the clumps. This should give you an even better display next spring. My tulips have just about finished and now I need to plant up some containers around the pond with some colour for the summer.

This year, I have reduced the number of containers across the back garden by over one third, meaning I might be selling 80 or more at my garden openings. In order to reduce the demands of constant watering over the hot summer months, I have limited my displays this year to geraniums which are much more drought tolerant than usual displays of summer annuals. The main focus of plants this year will be the stunning aeonium collection I have accumulated over recent years. They are such wonderful plants as long as you remember they don’t like the cold and take them in for the winter. The new sunken patio area is a great area to display them.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk