THE weather has certainly been a bit more autumnal and much cooler this last week, especially over the Bank Holiday.

There is a lot to do at this time of year, getting ready to put my garden to bed in the coming weeks. I’ve been cleaning out the area behind the studio, which did not get done last autumn, due to my back injury. I’d quite forgotten about a lot of the items stored there and have decided many will end up at the local tip to avoid wasting space. This weekend, I have someone coming to replace the batons on the summer house roof and to rehang the doors, as the hinges have rusted away and one door has not been able to open all summer.

If you are up for some garden visiting then why not try this? On Sunday between 1pm and 5pm, Hassocks and Keymer are opening up a small garden trail of five varied gardens in aid of St Peter and St James’ Hospice. They will also be selling original paintings and cards. The gardens are unable to provide teas due to Covid-19. You cannot just turn up and all tickets must be booked on the hospice website at £6 per person for all the gardens, with children free.

I’ve been cutting back plants in the beach garden at the front of the house. One of my all-time favourites since I created the garden over 12 years ago has been crambe maritima or sea kale. On top of being a robust and lovely plant for the garden, it is edible, too. The plant is related to the cabbage and was first cultivated as a vegetable in Britain around the turn of the 18th century. Large mounds of this herbaceous perennial can often be spotted growing on shingle beaches. We have masses growing on Tide Mills opposite the house. In early summer clusters of white honey-scented flowers appear.

Even at this time of year, when the flowers have long gone, the beautiful silver/grey/green leaves look pretty stunning set against the gravel background. For best results, grow it in full sun or partial shade in deep, fertile, well-drained soil. It needs to be cut back in autumn and will come back strongly the following year. Sea kale is also known for attracting bees, beneficial insects and other pollinators as it has nectar/pollen rich flowers. The only downside is that the snails and slugs love it too. I’ve got about ten different plants across both the front and back gardens and they blend in so well at the front with my range of agave Americana too.

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