IF YOU fancy a garden visit this weekend then why not venture out to Washington, where the National Garden Scheme has the Old Vicarage opening for them, located in The Street with three and a half acres on show.

The front is formally laid out with topiary, a wide lawn, mixed border and a contemporary water sculpture.

Meanwhile, the rear features new and mature trees from 19th century and stunning uninterrupted views of the North Downs.

Two thousand tulips have been planted for spring, as well as 10,000 mixed bulbs in the meadow area. It is going to open tomorrow, from 10.30am to 3.30pm with entry £6, full details at www.ngs.org.uk

This week also sees a wide distribution of the National Garden Scheme’s Sussex booklet across the county from libraries to garden centres and everywhere in between, so keep an eye open and pick up your own copy, so you can plan your 2020 visits.

Don’t forget they have a good mobile app too that you can download to find gardens open near you at any given time.

February is the month the patio at the back of my house comes alive with beautiful Camelias. Though roses top the charts for romance, these are equally dreamy flowers that bloom now.

The ruffled flowers could easily be mistaken for a rose, if it weren’t for the glossy, deep bottle-green foliage that makes it worth growing as a stand-alone evergreen shrub all year round. The blooms are particularly appealing and generally last through to March. I’ve got six shrubs in both pink and white that really liven up the outlook at this time of the year. They thrive in acidic soil, so benefit from being in a container or raised bed with other acid loving plants and shrubs. They can survive in neutral soil if needed too. Raised beds, made from old railway sleepers, work really well. I’ve used new ones on my patio. Fill the beds with good ericaceous potting compost and if you plan to top off, use bark chippings. Other plants that work well with them are native primroses and pulmonarias which finish off the woodland look. Tthey were first introduced to the UK back in the 18th century, they were thought to be tender plants and were grown extensively in greenhouses. Later, gardeners realised they were hardy enough to grow outside, this was truly confirmed after the glass was blown out of greenhouses during the Second World War. The plants continued to survive despite the low temperatures.

Read more at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk