THE next few days see the final gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme in Sussex for 2020.

Tomorrow, Herstmonceux Castle, Gardens and Grounds are opening for the day with tickets available on their own web site. On Sunday, High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden is open near Handcross and on October 8 The Old Vicarage in Washington opens for its final day this year. Tickets for the last two can be purchased at

As for my own garden, there is still a bit to do before I can leave it for the winter.

The torrential rain we had at the end of last week certainly did it good as the ground had been very hard. The main thing still to do this weekend is to remove the spent annuals, cut back and protect the tender fuchsias and start to tidy up the alley at the side of the house, where I store many of the containers with more delicate plants. It has a Perspex roof so still gets plenty of natural light.

There is one plant I shall not be cutting back just yet. I’ve got two clumps of dahlias in large containers on the narrow patio at the back of the house and they have flowered profusely over the last few weeks and are still going strong. The colours are quite amazing, so vibrant.

Dahlias are loved for their long flowering season, which often lasts until the first frosts, and they come in a huge variety of flower colour and shapes.

They can be grown as part of a late-summer planting scheme or as a cut flower. They require a fertile, moist but well-drained soil, and a sunny, sheltered spot. Taller varieties will need staking.

Once they have finished flowering, I will dig up the tubers and overwinter them in a frost-free place. Next year in May, I will plant them back in their containers again.

For now, I’ll place tubers upside down in a newspaper-lined tray so that they can dry out for a couple of weeks in a dry place.

Once dry, the tubers can be left in a cool, frost-free place in a shallow tray of dry compost or horticultural sand but don’t water them. They don’t need light during this time, making a dark garage the perfect store.

Leave them here until planting time in late spring.

If you plan to grow yours in pots next year, do use a good quality, peat-free multi-purpose compost.

Once the tubers are out of the containers I shall be filling them with a selection of spring bulbs to create a colourful display.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at