AWARD winning gardener and fundraiser Geoff Stonebanks brings you his weekly gardening column

ACTIVITY is in full swing now at Driftwood. All the annuals are planted and fed, and they are getting well-established. Altogether this year, I planted more than 600 of them ranging from small plugs to many larger ones.

Virtually all went into containers as opposed the ground. It took me almost six days to complete the task, planning on what to mix and match to get the best results.

I’ve said this so many times before, but I feel it is like painting the garden with plants and it gives me great satisfaction once it is complete and I can stand back and admire the handy work on my canvas.

A real stand out plant at the moment is a Calceolaria, also called lady’s purse, slipper flower and pocketbook flower. I have six plants, supplied to me, on trial, by a well-known company. As yet they don’t have a name and are not on general sale.

They send them to gardens they use to trial their products and our feedback at the end of the season helps them decide whether the plants should go on general sale the following year. There is no doubt that my recommendation on these particular plants will be an encouraging yes.

I’ve just removed all the garden china from its storage in the garden shed. It has all been put through the dishwasher and the kitchen is starting to resemble a small café again. I’ve got over 150 cups and saucers and about 50 tea pots to use through the summer when I serve tea and cakes in the garden.

That aside, the garden is actually looking quite good, not an easy thing for me to say as I am always incredibly self-critical of how it looks. All the furniture has been brought out of store and washed, a new bench purchased for the front of the house and we are almost ready to go.

All we need now is a summer of glorious weather and lots of visitors. Our first public open day will be on June 9 with the Mayor’s Open Garden event.

This Bank Holiday weekend, there are plenty of wonderful National Garden Scheme gardens to visit across Sussex. You could go east to Bexhill on Sea and visit three lovely gardens in the town. See a delightful garden full of unusual plants, a large walled garden and an established plant lover’s garden all for £4.

Alternatively venture west to 54 Elmleigh in Midhurst and view a heavily planted garden with majestic, 100-year old Black pines and a few hedgehogs in residence too. Full details on both can be found at

Read more of Geoff’s garden at