A favourite plant in my garden at this time of the year is the white bottlebrush, or Callistemon. It is an attractive evergreen shrub, native to Australia. They have become popular in Europe because of the spectacular flowers in axillary spikes, which look like bottle brushes. In colder areas they can be grown in pots, kept under cover in winter, giving plenty of water during the flowering period, little in winter. They require moist, well-drained soil and withstand pruning and drought. Mine was a gift from an elderly friend who passed away a few years ago. It has been planted in the garden now for about eight years. I put three fleeces on it though the winter months to protect it from the strong coastal, salt-laden winds, but it is well worth the effort.

At this time of year, it produces abundant white bottlebrush flowers that look absolutely stunning. Mine has many flowers in bloom now and many more to open up, these are followed by hard cylindrical seed-pods that last for years. With only a few weeks to go now until my garden welcomes its first paying visitors since August 2019, I’ve been busy baking a supply of cakes for the freezer to ease the pressure nearer the time. This year it will be a limited range and we will operate table service rather than visitors coming into the kitchen to choose.

All my summer annuals are now planted, I counted over 400 empty pots once the job was completed. They have all had their first feed, so we just need some sustained sun and warmth to get them going and looking their best for visitors next month. It was especially difficult this year with so many tulips still flowering, which had to be cut and displayed in the house.

This year has been a worrying time dealing with our tortoise, Hector. He was so very late waking up from his hibernation and the incessant cold weather has not helped encourage him to eat either. Fortunately, the last couple of weeks he has seemed to be his old self again and slowly starting to enjoy his food. I’m sure he missed garden visitors last year too and also looks forward to welcoming them back this summer.

Some readers will have seen the article on my fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support. I struck several naked poses in the garden, with strategically placed plants and containers, on World Naked Gardening Day at the beginning of the month. I am extremely pleased to say it raised over £800 so sincere thanks to all who donated.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk