Since my last blog for Thompson & Morgan, back at the beginning of July, so much has happened in the garden! Not only have we seen over 2,200 visitors over the summer, but have raised over £16,000 for charity, this year alone! The icing on the cake came when ITV’s Good Morning Britain filmed live from the garden on the 14th July. All weather girl, Laura Tobin’s, 9 reports that day came live from the garden, here in Sussex. Overall the garden had 10 minutes coverage on the show. I was also very fortunate to be interviewed twice by Laura on live ITV TV too! All the details of the film shoot along with the gossip can be seen on my web site .
Then, in early October, the new local TV station in the Brighton area, Latest TV, agreed to a weekly gardening segment of about 10 minutes on their Latest Homes Live show each week. So far they have filmed a dozen segments in the garden and aired about half of them! Once again they can be viewed via my web site!
Dahlia ‘Fire & Ice’
All this excitement along with seeing the wonderful trial plants from Thompson & Morgan flourishing in the garden too. All these images shown were taken in mid to late October 2014 and the flowers have looked quite amazing this year! Some from 2013, like the Dahlia Fire & Ice, Rose Garden Party, Peruvian tree lilly and Fuchsia Duke of Wellington have looked utterly stunning for a second year! The Osteospermum Tresco Purple, delivered last Autumn really took off in the spring and are still looking amazing in November in several clumps around the garden.
Rose Garden Party
New for 2014 were the Penstemon Wedding bells which flowered very late in the season. The Antirrhinum Candy cane have been amazing as well in white, red and yellow. The stunning red ones are looking incredible with the Begonia Crispa Marginata in front of it in a pot in the garden. Other amazing flowers have been the enormous blooms on the fuchsia Quasar, which have had many comments from garden visitors. There is a clump of osteospermum bronze as visitors entered the garden and they had many positive comments, looking amazing throughout the later summer months.
Begonia Crispa Marginata
Winter is fast approaching and the strong winds and rain here on the south coast has meant a real change in the garden in the last few days but there has been time to get out and start to tidy it up. First on the list was the trimming of the 3 large New Zealand Flax in the garden, which you can see me working on here.
There have been some new plants delivered this autumn to trial, like the Hydrangea Love, Camelia Cupido, Clematis ‘New Love‘ and Rose ‘Sweet Spot Calypso’ , all now planted out in the garden ready to amaze visitors in 2015. So here’s to a great year in 2015 both for the Thompson & Morgan plants and the garden generally.
Since writing my last blog for Thompson & Morgan about the plants on trial at driftwood earlier in the year, the garden has moved on at a pace and a half! We have already had 2 public open days, one for the National Gardens Scheme and one for a local trail which I organise for the local Mayor. The garden has already seen over 400 visitors in 2014, with 14 open days to go! Amazingly, this year, driftwood has appeared as a 4-page feature in both an English national gardening magazine and one in France too! Sussex Life Magazine listed it as one of the top 25 gardens to see in Sussex for 2014 too which was a real accolade! Full details of events and open days can be found on my website.
So, what’s happening in the garden right now, with regard to the Thompson & Morgan products I have either purchased or trialling?
Here is a view over the pond in June with the clump of dazzling Foxglove ‘Illumination Pink’ in the foreground, a stunning plant I bought last year, which has just gone berserk this summer as you can see!
Foxglove “Illumination Pink”
We have several plants that came as part of the trial in 2013, which are doing really well again this season. The Alstroemeria Peruvian Tree Lilly is amazing in the pot I planted them in last spring! I was recently on Ideal World Shopping with Michael Perry via a phone link promoting the product! The colours are quite amazing and a real eye catcher in the garden for visitors, many of whom have been impressed and said they would be purchasing them.
Alstroemeria Peruvian Tree Lilly
Another plant doing well is the Rose ‘Garden Party’ that I planted, which has already produced many pretty small flowers as you can see! The Osteospermum ‘Tresco Purple’ from last autumn has also come in to its own in the courtyard garden under the apple tree with dozens of pretty flowers appearing in recent weeks!
Rose ‘Garden Party’ and Osteospermum ‘Tresco Purple’
Some of the real stunner’s this year however, have been the petunias we have been trialling and you can see how amazing they look! Some of the most talked about are the ‘Crazytunia Green with Envy’, ‘Preppy Cerise’ and ‘Preppy Blue’.
The stunning Gazenia ‘Sunbather Tikal’ is another of this year’s trial plants and the flowers that are starting to come out are real eye catchers too!
Gazenia ‘Sunbather Tikal’
The Peruvian Tree lilies which started off as 3 bulbs and now, in the same pot, are producing 7 stems of beautiful blooms.
It is lovely to be able to grow some of these new plants in the garden and be amongst the first to see how they develop and especially to hear the comments from visitors.
More to come later in the year!
In this, my latest blog for Thompson & Morgan, I am going to bring you up to date with the trial products here at Driftwood that were delivered between September and April to my exposed coastal plot here on the south coast!
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know that it is not an ideal site for many plants and shrubs, due to the salt laden winds, of which there have been many over this period! Driftwood will open to the public on 16 days this summer and by appointment as well between June and September. Over 200 people have already booked to visit by appointment, which is quite incredible. Full details on my garden and all its openings for charity, can be found at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk Amazingly, Sussex Life Magazine is listing it as one of the top 25 gardens to see in Sussex in their May issue and it will have a 4 page feature in a national gardening magazine, Garden Answers, in their May issue.
Some of the plants delivered that have been a great success, that this year’s visitors will be able to see, are the Osteospermums, Snow Pizie, Tresco Purple and jucundum var. compactum. They were all planted out in containers and a few in the ground last autumn and have survived what the weather has thrown at them. All are growing well but obviously have yet to flower.
All the Golden Lysimachia were potted up in the heated greenhouse upon arrival and kept there all winter. They have not grown much so far, all about 1 inch tall at present, but still looking healthy and will hopefully grow more before being planted out in the garden before long!
Two lots of tulips were delivered last autumn as well, Silver Parrot and Ice Cream. Whilst the latter have yet to fully open, the former are absolutely stunning in the garden at the moment.
The Geranium hardy doubles are all, just starting to develop and leaves starting to form, so hopefully they will look wonderful by the time we open in June!
Tulip ‘Ice Cream’
Regular readers will know that I was one of the trial gardens in 2013 too and some of last years plants have had to deal with the horrific winter we have had here, with the winds and salt. Among the amazing survivors are are alstromeira, Peruvian Tree Lily. They have survived well in the large pot in the garden and are already starting to flower as you can see!
The tree lily, leopard lionheart are already over 18 inches tall with many more than the 3 heads we had last summer, they will surely look stunning again in a few weeks once they flower.
Tree Lily ‘Leopard Lionheart’
When the 2 fruit trees, Plum Claude Reine and Cox’s orange Pippin arrived last spring I was very concerned for their well-being. I already had two well established pear and apple trees in the garden, but I did not have any sheltered area to plant these new additions and I did not think would do well. The apple tree produced 2 fruit last year and amazingly, they have survived really well and are already starting to shoot as you can see.
Plum ‘Claude Reine’
Apple ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’
The fuchsia Duke of Wellington has also done well through the winter and is already showing good signs of growth. Several of the Viola Unique collection have also come through the winter in pots and have started to flower again.
Fuchsia ‘Duke of Wellington’
Two plants I purchased myself from T&M last year are also doing really well, the Foxglove Illumination Pink is already well established again and the Buddleja Jazz are also looking great with lots of new growth.
Foxglove ‘Illumination Pink’
Overall the garden is looking the best it has ever looked at this time of the year which I’m sure is due to the amount of rain we had in January through March. So, if you live in, or are visiting Sussex this Summer, be sure to come and take a look!
Nearly all the trial plants I am to receive for 2014 have arrived and I will be updating you on their progress later in the year!
You can read more about Geoff and his blog ‘Driftwood by sea’ at http://www.geoffstonebanks.co.uk/blog.html
On a resent visit to Foxton Locks near Market Harborough, I saw a dome made up of willow with a seat. I was so impressed with it, I thought it would be nice to make a willow dome for the green belt park area where we live. I am involved in the RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood and Loughborough in Bloom and look after the green belt area.
The willow dome
I decided to make one myself and, after getting the willow together, I set about making the dome by planting the willow, so that it would grow into a living shelter. Once the seat had been put in, the job was done!
The finished dome
We have also recently started a wildlife area by a stream which has a lot of trees and bushes in, putting up nest boxes and also bug boxes for bees and insects.
Ready to put up the bird boxes (I’m in the high-vis jacket!)
At the moment I’m getting an area ready with bee and butterfly flowers, using Thompson & Morgan’s Butterfly Mix.
After all the horrendous rain, gales and floods I think I can at last say I believe spring is on its way. The heavy rains have stopped here in Bournemouth although we are still getting heavy showers, but in between we have had sunshine with reasonable temperatures. We have to repair a couple of panels that were damaged in one of the gales, but taking everything into account I consider myself very lucky that no other damage was done.
The daffodils are out in my garden, making it look very cheery, also many crocuses on the side of roads which makes a great difference to floods everywhere. I noticed today that several trees have their pink blossoms already – another sign that spring is here. My small acer trees, which are in containers, all have new shoots on them. I noticed also that some of my tree lilies are showing themselves – a little early.
New shoots on the acer
At last I have been able to get into the garden and cut back and feed my fuchsias and generally tidy up by sorting out the containers ready for the new season. Whilst doing that and getting some ready to be emptied I came across a window box, which at first looked as though it was full of weeds, only to discover that my strawberry plants from last year were just starting to shoot, so I tidied them up ready for the new season.
Early tree lily
On Sunday 23rd February part of the film that was made in my garden on 3rd September last year was on TV, I was watching whilst having my breakfast and there I was onscreen – I must say that it felt kind of funny watching myself!!!
The front garden in 2013
On 14th January I was presented with a cup for winning Gold First Best Container Garden 2013 in the Bournemouth in Bloom competition, and certificate for Gold Third Best Private Hanging Basket, I was thrilled as we are not told until called up to the stage.
Me being presented with the cup for Gold First Best Container Garden 2013
Looking forward to another busy season…
Customer trial panel member Caroline Broome has had a busy weekend, getting ready for spring.
At last we have had a fine weekend and I’ve been making the most of it in spades, literally! Everything is coming into leaf, notably tree peony Hong Xia, and some plants like bog sage never died down. How timely was our decision to get rid of our lawn last autumn in favour of Indian stone – it’s so much easier to access the borders now. A near neighbour’s massive ash tree, which has overshadowed our garden for years, has been hard pruned by half so I’m dying to see how much more sun we will get here. The spring spruce up begins!
Tree peony Hong Xia
Having compiled a ‘Things To Do’ list I went completely off plan by cutting back the clematis Montana by half! I know that it’s officially the wrong time to prune this clematis but it was smothering everything in its wake. Then I hard pruned the neighbouring choisya. Everything in that corner of the garden looks strangely bare, but a lot brighter.
Next I dug up congested patches of symphytum, white phlox and acanthus to make room for my new T&M trial plants: Wallflower Perfumed Collection & Digitalis Leopardskin plugs, which were overwintered in 9cm pots, now have healthy root systems poking through the bottom of their pots. Also ready for transplanting are barerooted brunnera ‘Starry Eyes’ which have been storming away in their temporary greenhouse holding beds. Can’t wait for the soil to dry out a bit so that I can plant them out. I can’t bear to throw away any potential plants so every time I lift perennials I end up with loads of divisions, which I pot up for sale at my NGS Open Day. It’s only February and I can’t move in the greenhouse for plants. Some of the plants from last autumn that died back naturally over winter are totally unidentifiable, so it’s a case of wait and see.
Digitalis and wallflowers
I planted Freesia ‘Patio Perfection’ bulbs into terracotta patio pots, but the Trumpet Lily Collection has been planted into plastic pots for sinking into the borders later. Daffodil Rainbow Butterflies Mixed is promising to put on a magnificent display; I planted dozens so I’m anticipating a show stopping display outside our sun room doors.
Daffodils and Jitterbug, the annoyed cat!
It’s a case of hope over experience with me when it comes to seed sowing, but always the optimist I have sown my Courgette Defender seeds already, along with some ‘Boogie’ peas and sweet peas ‘Old Spice Mixed’ for the allotment. Probably not my most sensible decision was to plant out the Charlotte and Maris Piper potatoes, but they were chitted and raring to go; so now I am glued to the weather forecast, fleece in hand, in case of impending frost.
A friend made a beautiful raised wooden and aluminium herb planter for our Christmas present, which has been filled with perennial herbs like sage, thyme, chives and rosemary, and I have sown purple basil and coriander to fill in the gaps in summer.
Iris reticulata in its 3rd year