Having been able to place my 94-year-old mother in respite care, we have just returned from our first holiday in nearly two years, a short stay in Dorset, where I have seen many new plants in the many gardens we visited.

Two venues worthy of note are Abbotsbury Sub Tropical garden near Weymouth and Holme for Gardens near Wareham. Needless to say, I have added to my plant collection and struggled to fit everything, plus the new purchases, in the car for the return journey home.

I’ve loved Eucomis, or Pineapple Lilies, ever since a friend gave me some several years ago. Their statuesque spires, or minarets, stand erect for months, with the seed heads just as good as the flowers. Many can be on the chunky side, but while away, I discovered the new generation aloha series. These plants are a little more discreet but still full of impact, perfect for planting at the front of a border, or in a pot for pride of place. The two I have purchased, Aloha Leia, bear blooms in a wonderful, purple-crimson. They are frost-hardy pineapple flowers which can be grown outdoors in the southern parts of the UK, but in other areas are best grown in containers and then moved to a sheltered position when the weather cools. Mine will be potted up in containers and will delight on the new patio area I’m creating for next summer.

Needless to say, after some time away, there is much to do in the garden at Driftwood this week. Many of my summer annuals are now past their best and I’ve had to start discarding some. Sadly, many dried out while away too. Despite setting up my automatic watering system, it is inevitable that some will fall by the wayside.

A friend, kindly came in every day to feed our tortoise, Hector, but my garden is not the sort of plot you can ask anyone to look after and water while you are away. I did select a few key containers and move them into one location with some watering cans close by and asked them to keep a check on them and these have survived well.

If you want to get out and visit a garden this weekend, the National Garden Scheme has Knightsbridge House opening the garden gate today, Saturday, from 1pm to 4pm. Full details can be found at www.ngs.org.uk. It is in Hellingly, near Hailsham and is a mature landscaped garden set in five acres of tranquil countryside surrounding a Georgian house, with garden rooms, spectacular herbaceous borders planted in a contemporary style in traditional setting.

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

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