It’s the first day of spring tomorrow and my spectacular camellia know it. I’ve got three large containers and a raised bed with a total of six plants at Driftwood, all in the shade on a north facing wall at the back of the house.

Camellia are evergreen shrubs with simple, ovate, glossy, leathery leaves and showy flowers with solitary or clustered flowers early in the year. My largest is “Guilio Nuccio” which is a large, vigorous shrub of upright growth with deep rose-pink, semi-double flowers up to 13cm in width with prominent stamens. I bought it back in the 1990s and brought it with me when we moved from London to Sussex. In memory of an elderly friend, who passed away several years ago, I purchased a camellia “Yuletide”, an evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves and brilliant-red single flowers with yellow stamens that generally appear over Christmas and early New Year.

My favourite by far is another plant that was a gift from a friend of my mother, Edna Bradbury, and it is a magnificent camellia “William Bartlett”. It has the most beautiful pale, pink flowers with splashes and flecks of darker pink and it is hardy in most places throughout the UK, even in severe winters.

Mine has about 50 gorgeous flowers this week really brightening up a dark corner of the garden, with quite a few more buds to open.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on my knees in the garden recently. The gravel beds in the centre and the beach garden at the front needed tidying. This means getting down and picking out the debris that has accumulated on the stones through the winter months. I’m having real trouble with my knees at the moment, so have just invested in a kneeler, with handles to help me get up and down. It is amazing what a difference it makes to see the stones and not lots of leaves.

A must-do job this week is to carefully cut back last year’s damaged fronds on the many ferns throughout the garden. I leave them to protect the plants through the winter but now new shoots are beginning to appear and the old tatty fronds need to come off before the new growth gets too tall and are damaged while cutting away the old. I’ve probably got over 20 different ferns around the garden, some planted in the ground but many in containers too.

Most hardy garden ferns thrive best in a shady or part shaded areas and many will grow happily in full sun. There is a fern for just about any part of the garden.

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