THIS month sees the National Garden Scheme opening more gardens across the county, as their owners decide the pre-booking system put in place last month is really starting to work and ensure safe visits for all concerned.

This weekend you can book to see these gardens in West Sussex, Whithurst Park in Kirdford, Channel View in Goring by Sea, 4 Hillside Cottages in West Stoke near Chichester and 54 Elmleigh in Midhurst. If you are interested just go the website,, click on book to visit a garden, then choose South East and pick your garden. Check each page as some gardens are big enough to allow you to take your own picnic and a few will allow dogs on leads too. Remember, they post new openings every Monday covering the following ten days.

I can’t believe the amount of wind we have had along the coast this week. My poor garden has been battered to death with the foliage on many plants badly scorched. This coupled with a lack of rain has meant my containers have needed regular watering as they are drying out much quicker.

I’ve spent a lot of well spent time dead heading too. In order to keep summer plants and bedding at their best and more importantly to prolong flowering, it is essential to dead head. The purpose is to encourage more flowering. Once the plant has flowered and set seed, so it can reproduce, plants are often reluctant to flower again.

Dead heading forces the plant back into the cycle to produce flower and seeds again. All that aside, it certainly makes your displays more interesting to look at too. Those that need the most attention in my garden are petunias and verbena.

This year I have grown my tomatoes from seeds as I’ve had more time. They are vigorous plants and need to be kept in check. Make sure you nip out all side shoots, and thin down, which means cutting off leaves to add light for when the flowers turn to fruit and to restrict growth. Once the plant has set 3/4 flower trusses, stop off the growing point and keep pinching it out to stop the plant growing. Mine have several flower trusses now. As the plant grows it will need plenty of support. Take care to tie loosely when first placed on the plant, as the stem grows it can become tight which will cause damage and wound the plant. Regular watering is essential for a good crop of tomatoes and the plants should not be allowed to dry out.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at