THIS week has seen me spend a bit of time tidying up the beach garden.

With no visitors coming this year, I have not felt the need to constantly be out there making sure it looks perfect for guests.

Consequently, there was quite a bit to do, especially cutting back the main shrubs, elaeagnus and sea buckthorn. I still have not felt comfortable visiting the local tip with my garden debris. Throughout lockdown I have been using a local guy who drops off a large canvas bag which I fill and then he comes and collects it. It is a great service which I am continuing to use and it’s not that expensive.

Don’t forget you can book a time slot to visit a National Garden Scheme Garden. This weekend you can see 4 Hillside Cottages in West Stoke near Chichester or Peelers Retreat in Arundel. Also opening is The Garden House in Midhurst which will have plants for sale too. All are open for pre-booking on Sunday, just log on to and follow the links to arrange your visit.

This year has probably been the best yet for my hydrangeas. I mentioned back in June one called Red Baron but this week the shining star is one called hydrangea paniculata “Vanille Fraise”. It is a perfect shrub for those problematic north-facing areas, due to its extreme hardiness. It can cope with minus 20C.

I’ve got mine in a large container at the back of the house, which does face north. It is a welcome addition from French breeders that has already won many awards. It has loose pyramid-shaped clusters of flowers which form at the tips of red-stemmed branches in summer.

They emerge creamy-white and turn shades of pink as they age, before finally taking on rich red and russet tones. They are perfect for adding late summer colour to the shrub border, or maybe creating an informal, flowering hedge. To enhance flowering make sure you prune hard in early spring, cutting back the previous season’s shoots to within a few buds of the permanent, woody framework of the plant.

We have certainly had some extremely warm weather recently which has meant almost daily watering across the garden. This year I’ve tended to approach it differently with no visiting guests. I’ve mentally split the garden into three areas, the beach garden at the front, which needs minimal watering and then cut the back into two sections, the area directly behind the house.

Visit Geoff’s garden at