This is the first blog I have written for Bakker! I have bought quite a few new plants this year as there always seems to be a unique collection available. Some of you may have heard of my multi-award winning garden on the south coast. It’s called Driftwood and is situated midway between Brighton and Eastbourne. There is nothing between the garden and the sea, a quarter of a mile away. Since 2009 we have seen over 14500 visitors and have raised over £76000 for various charities. Many of our visitors return year after year so it is very important for me to try out new plants and make the garden look a little different each year. I was very lucky to have the garden featured on BBC Gardeners’ World last Autumn and the garden was a finalist in the Gardeners’ World Magazine’s Garden of the Year 2016 and has some pictures in their April 2017 issue too in the section “Small Spaces Solutions”. There will be an 8-page feature about the garden in an issue of Coast Magazine this Summer too. This year I have been blown away after receiving confirmation that we will have visitors from both China and Japan. Those from Beijing read about the garden on TripAdvisor and the ladies coming from Japan heard about the garden in the Japanese media!
The garden is really one of 2 halves, beach garden at the front and lush paradise at the back. This year I saw the beautiful brugmansia tri-colour, which seemed irresistible with its unique combination of 3 beautiful angels’ trumpets. It’s now potted up and in the greenhouse until the weather improves and will help create the lush look at the back.
I have many fuchsias throughout the garden, 2 in particular, that belonged to my Dad and his sister, Margaret. I too have grown to love them and have about 15 different ones. I loved the giant ones especially Bella Rosella, Pink Marshmallow and Blue Angel, so decided I had to add them to my collection. I plan to pot them up and these are perfect for the really shady area I have at the back of the house. Their impressive blooms should catch the eye of this year’s visitors. Another gorgeous plant to catch my eye online was the Yellow Snake Flower, an attractive South African succulent with medicinal properties. The blooms look so amazing. I’m going to retain it in a pot amongst my floral display in the centre of the garden. In the beach garden and around the pond I needed some ground cover plants and the Red Stonecrop (Sedum Spurium ‘Schorbuser Blut’) caught my eye. It is a very attractive and strong border plant that feels at home in any type of soil. The thick, fleshy but hardy foliage soon forms a dense clump. The star-shaped dark-pink flowers stand out from the beautiful dark green, often slightly red tinted leaves. Very quickly spreads forming a sensational fiery red carpet of flowers – I’m really looking forward to seeing it flower in the beach garden! Earlier in the year, I decided to invest in some “Queen of the Night”, an Asian lily. The pictures of the near black blooms, exclusively available from Bakker to celebrate its 70th anniversary were irresistible. I’ve put them in a large container and look forward to seeing their incredible blooms. It’s a unique lily with beautiful, almost black flowers, accented by stunning vermilion red stamens! The final purchase on my recent visit to the website was an interesting drifting island, complete with plants: the Blue Water Iris (Iris Laevigata bleu), Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’) and Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia). Also purchased was a basket of oxygen plants to go in my newly cleaned pond. Once established they are going to be a real eye catcher as visitors enter the garden this summer. Watch out for my summer update on how all the plants are doing and follow the garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk
Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden – Driftwood – he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also Assistant County Organiser for the National Garden Scheme and their Publicity Officer for East & Mid Sussex.