HERE’S hoping all my readers had a happy Christmas and maybe received some appreciative gardening gifts too.

Many of us will have been cooped up in the house over the festive period, so now is perhaps a good time to get out and see a lovely garden and get into the fresh air. The wonderful gardens at West Dean have recently made the decision to open all year, following the arrival of their new head gardener, Tom Brown. So, this will be the first year that visitors can see it through the winter. The only day it is closed is New Year’s Day. You can even take your four-legged friend along too. There have been gardens on this site since 1622, when the original manor house was built and in 1804, when the current house was built, the gardens were enlarged and park was laid out, and the kitchen garden was moved to its present position and enclosed by walls. There’s quite a lot to see and enjoy, with more details at

I have not done any gardening this week, other than to check containers in both greenhouse and side alley. That said, it’s quite surprising how many interesting plants are dazzling at Driftwood at the moment. Two in particular are the Fatsia Japonica “Spiders Web”, in among the shrubs around the pond area and the Coronilla Glauca, with its stunning yellow flowers in the beach garden at the front of the house. The former has really come on and looks quite magnificent now and is prized for its glossy palmate foliage. It is a particularly intriguing variety with speckled markings that spread inwards from the outermost edges. The overall effect is an unusual, frosted appearance. Clusters of globular white flowers are followed by black berries. Despite its exotic looks, this evergreen shrub is perfectly hardy and has survived well in my garden.

It is also a very good choice for challenging, shaded positions. The latter has been a stunner in the garden for several years now as it flowers right through the winter through to mid spring, with an abundance of lemon-yellow, pea-like blooms. These sweetly scented blooms make this coronilla a useful shrub for bringing colour to those dull winter days. The small blue-green foliage is evergreen, providing a fine backdrop for its fragrant display. While it says they need a sheltered spot, I have one in my beach garden that is in a very exposed spot but has been doing well for five years now.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at