The garden opened for the National Garden Scheme at the beginning of the week and yet again, the weather was not that kind to us. Let’s hope our final opening for them on August 1 has a gorgeous sunny day.

Just before that I had 50 entries to judge in the first round of the Radio 2 Big Bee Challenge. The competition was open to six to 12-year-olds and I had to put two of the 50 through to the next round. It was quite fun looking through and marking them all.

This weekend sees the preparations begin for the annual Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail which takes place next weekend. Today, Saturday, sees all the garden owners meet up for a tea party at the Horizon Centre. I shall be handing out the garden owner packs and answering any last-minute questions they may have. There are 15 gardens opening this year, nine in Brighton, five in Seaford and one in Alfriston. There are a number of new ones too.

Tickets can be purchased in the first garden visited or via the website. Dogs on leads are allowed and many will be serving refreshments. Make a note in your diaries and help us raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

I’ll be joining Allison Fearns on BBC Sussex breakfast show one day next week to talk about the trail and my fundraising for Macmillan.

Looking great in my garden this week are several hydrangeas. One in particular, Annabelle, is looking the best it has ever done. It is a stunning, large flowered white hydrangea, often producing football sized flower heads over ten inches in diameter. The enormous, densely packed heads of creamy-white flowers appear from July to September above pointed, dark green leaves. Unlike the better-known blue and pink hydrangeas, Annabelle blooms reliably every year, even after severe pruning or intensely cold winters. The huge blooms will appear in profusion without fail. Some people plant Annabelle as a hedge since it can be cut back severely in the winter for a tidy effect. Deciduous and with an upright growth habit, hydrangea Annabelle makes a gorgeous feature for a partly shady border with moist, well-drained soil. It will also be happy in a roomy patio planter, provided it is kept well fed and watered in the growing season. The large flower heads can also be cut for use in a vase, and are particularly suitable for dried flower arrangements too. I’ve had mine a few years now and it grows in a large pot behind the house.

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